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1 



THE CHANGING DRAMA 



BT THE SAME AUTHOR 

I 

I 

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW : HIS LIFE I 

AND WORKS I 

EUROPEAN DRAMATISTS | 

INTERPRETERS OP LIFE, AND THE 
MODERN SPIRIT 



MARK TWAIN 



WILLIAM JAMES. Translated, with Bar- , 
bara Henderson, from the French of £)mile 

Boutroux j 

etc.» etc. ' 



•THE 
CHANGING DRAMA. 

Contributions and Tendencies 



ARCfflBALD HENDERSON 



OTEW YORK 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

19U 






Copyright, 1914, 

BY 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 



PuUithed October, 1914 



* • • • » •• 
. t : : ": -••'•: • • • •**. 



TNI QUINN A MMN CO. PflEM 
RAHWAY, N. J. 



I lay this hook vpon her shrine 
Whose lifted torch has lighted mine. 

Sweet Heart — great Heart of tenderness: 
Strong Hands to help — dear Hands to bless i 
Clear Brain whose vision dwells in light: 
Fire Spirit, wingM flame of white: 
Oh I Soul — ^true Sword Excalibur: 
Body— fit sheath for soul of her! 

/ lay this book upon her shrine — 
Herssinee herself has made it mine. 



Oir\/\0/6»Q 



i 



PREFATORY NOTE 

The contemporary drama awaits its historian 
and interpreter. There is no dearth of critical 
studies of the drama of the period. But the pub- 
lished works deal for the most part with individual 
figures, or else with movements limited either to 
a brief period of time or to a single country. 
Every one who is truly interested in the drama as 
a life form, in reference to the theater and to 
literature, must realize the need for the work 
which, from the critical and historical standpoints, 
takes account of the drama during the past half- 
century and more, as the symbol of a general 
movement in human consciousness. 

For this great spiritual drama of to-day Is 
warp and woof of the fabric of modem life. At 
the door of all our hearts knocks this new drama 
of pity and revolt. Pity for the lot of those less 
favored than ourselves, revolt against the injus- 
tices of the social order — these sentiments of so- 
cial altruism and social justice animate most 
modem literature and most modem thinking. 
The drama of our era has played a pre-eminent 
r61e in stirring us to the assertion of individual 

vU 



viu PREFATORY NOTE 

freedom, awaking our sense of social obligation,, 
and holding the balance true between our in- 
dividual rights and our social duties. 

In the present volume, the attempt is made, on 
a very modest scale, to discover and to disclose 
the real contributions of the modem school of 
dramatists. These are studied primarily in re- 
lation to the life and the thinking of to-day. The 
evolution of form and technic, the re-alignment 
of criticism in regard to dramatic, esthetic, and 
ethical values, the general widening of outlook, 
the enlarged social content, the appraisal of gen- 
uine contributions, and the analysis of prevailing 
tendencies in the drama — such, within definitely 
chosen limits, is the intended scope of the present 
volume. From this scheme the poetic drama is 
excluded. Because, in my judgment, the poetic 
drama of the contemporary period, for all its 
beauties and ingenuities, to which I have been 
always ready to pay tribute, embodies no dis- 
tinctive or considerable contribution to the art 
or the practice of play-writing. 

Within the limits set, this book is believed to 
be the first work yet to appear in any language 
dealing with the contemporary drama, not as a 
kingdom subdivided between a dozen leading play- 
wrights, but as a great movement, exhibiting the 
evolutional growth of the human spirit and the 
enlargement of the domain of esthetics. Perhaps 



PREFATORY NOTE ix 

it may serve, in a sense, as a reflection of the 

spirit and tendency of the life of our era, which 

the contemporary drama has sought and still 

seeks so faithfully to interpret. 

Aechibald Henderson. 
Chapbl Hill, N. C, 
Juke, 19, 1914. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER I 

PAOB 

Deaxa nr the New Age S 

Modem art — Cosmic solidarity — Symbol of the 
growth of the human spirit — ^The coming of cos- 
mopolitanism — Era of world literature — ^The 
study of nature — Science and philosophy the 
handmaidens of art — ^The world as audience — 
Nationalism and internationalism — ^The transit of 
social idealism — The Zeitgeist progenitor of mod- 
em play — ^The new conscience — The sophisticated 
public— -Shakespeare, Molifere, Ibsen, Brieux — 
The social lawakening — Society made for man — 
Society as tyrant — Society as culprit — Social 
humanitarianism — Dramatic art and personal con- 
duct — ^The drama as social force — Qlonm of josw 
drama— A light in the darkness — Art and moral- 
ity—The spirit of intention— " Social predica- 
tion" — ^The new futurism. 



CHAPTER II 

The New Criticism axd the New Ethics • . 95 

The demand for a new dramatic criticism — 
The disappearance of " the public " — The differen- 
tiation of "the public" into many publics — 
America's untutored throng — Criticism distanced 
by creativeness — ^The prolific nature of art — ^The 
bankruptcy of formalism — ^The "laws" of the 
drama — The newer interpretation of .jso-caUed . 
laws — ^TBe 'Vlta^ quality oT art — Criticism and 
science — The law of change — Change in outlook — 
"The transvaluation of all values" — Utilitarian 
and ethical conceptions — ^The conflict between 
ethics and esthetics — ^The modem view. 



xii CONTENTS 

CHAPTER III 

PAGE 

Science and the New Drama 43 

The decay of " authority "y-The drama a life 
form — ^The law of evolution — The biological anal- 
ogy — The personal factor — Scientific criticism — 
Darwin and De Vries — ^The drama as a literary 
species — The origin and evolution of dramatic 
species — The phenomenon of survival — The com- 
petition of literary species — Content versus form 
— Evolution, variation, and mutation — "Laws" as 
scientific generalizations from esthetic facts — 
The method of science — The three tests — The three 
unities, with a difi^erence — A backward glance — 
Aristotle — The Italian critics — Castelvetro — ^The 
modem attitude — Ibsen — Real time and "ideal" 
time — "Esthetic advantage" — The fourth unity — 
The creation of atmosphere — Maeterlinck, Strind- 
berg, D'Annunzio — The practice of cor temporary 
dramatists — Ibsen, Shaw, Giacosa, Hauptmann, 
Galsworthy, St.- John Hankin — Mood conquers 
material — The scene undividable — Analytic treat- 
ment and synthetic treatment — The drama of 
recessive action — Identification of action with ex- 
position — The drama of explication — The device 
of " d^voilement "— The methods of fiction— The 
tyranny of the past — Narration supplants €u:tion 
— Prophecy versus retrospection. 

CHAPTER IV 

The New Forms — Realism and the Pulpit Stage 83 

The new forms — The drama of immediate 
actuality — Classic and modern art — ^The advent 
of Ibsen — Real people in natural situations — 
" The secret of the literature of modern times " — 
The bridging of "the chasm between the pro- 
ducing and the receiving mind" — Fashionable 
dramatic material worn out — Drama of ideas — 
The psychology of the crowd — Following after 
strange gods — The new futurism — Art for life's 
sake — The methods of Ibsen — The thesis-drama — 
Art an esthetic process, not a scientific pro- 
cedure — ^The general idea and the particular 
instance — "Slices of life" — Drama a stimulant 



CONTENTS xiii 

PAGE 

to action — Induced social consciousness — ^Drama 
as social dynamic — ^l^he social drama — ^Modern 
art redemptive as well as revelative — Galsworthy 
— ^The drama of social implication — The next 
step — ^The drama of sociologic injunction — ^Tjrpes 
of serious drama — Tragi-comedy — Pure social 
comedy — ^The sense of social obligation — ^The 
theater and the church — The new challenge — Art 
and morality — The dramatist as interpreter of 
life — The dramatist as social preacher — ^The pulpit 
stage — ^llie sense of incrimination — The new sodal 
conscience. 

CHAPTER V 

The New Forms — Natuealism and the Free 

TjEIEATERS 113 

The ThMtre Lihre—Cvmtr, Taine, Zola— The 
document and the man — ^The "odor of the 
people" — Science and naturalism — Dumas fiU — 
Augier — ^The triumph of naturalism — ^Antoine — 
Hie new cutting — Paris the theater of conflict — 
Zola, Strindberg — Brieux — Germany and natural- 
ism — The Freie BUhiie — ^The drama of pure natu- 
raUsm — ^ Evolution by explosion ** — ^De Vries— 
The newer scientific theories as exemplified in the 
work of Hauptmann — ^The treasure of the 
humble — The miracle of the commonplace — ^The 
supreme defect of naturalism — ^The dregs of 
society — The abnormal and the degenerate as sub- 
jects for art — The great naturalistic dramas — 
The passing of naturalism — Hie changed temper 
of the age — Static characters in scenes chronologi- 
cally sequent — The contributions of naturalism to 
universal art — Science and art — The intimate 
theater — ^** Chamber music" — Two new dramatic 
species — Hebbel and the drama of explication — 
The dramatization of the exposition — Ibsen and 
A Doll's House — ^The awakening — ^The drama of 
discussion — Shaw and Brieux — The new dialectic 
— ^The drama of suggestion — Maeterlinck — Poe — 
The dramatized short-story — The dialogue of sec- 
ondary intention — The weakening of action — ^Tlie 
cessation of struggle — Era of experimentalism — 
Symbolic romance. 



xiv CONTENTS 

CHAPTER VI 

PAGB 

Tbs Battle with Illusions — ^The Anciekt Boxtd^ 

AGE AND THE NeW FREEDOM 145 

The "elastic categories" — ^The bursting of the 
definitions — ^Aristotle's views of plot, action, char- 
acter — His confusion of thought — Hauptmann — 
Action a "worthless accident'* — BrunetiSre — ^**No 
conflict, no drama" — Conflict not the differentiat- 
ing characteristic of the stage play — Crisis versus 
conflict — Invalid distinction — ^Neitiier crisis nor 
conflict indispensable — Struggle of human wills 
furnishes most dynamic species of play — ^Dra- 
matic action and crowd psychology — ^Mass con- 
sciousness — ^The errors of the disciples of Tarde 
and Le Bon — ^The theater not the cradle of atavism 
— ^Appeal to universal, not primitive, type — Crowd 
sense — Heightens intensity, without altering na- 
ture, of emotion — Modem spectator sits tight — 
Repression the keynote of modern drama — Rev- 
elation of underlying motives — Artistic foreshort- 
ening — Pictorial and plastic attributes of the play 
— The appeal to the higher emotio- s — ^Drama as 
argument — Increased impassibility — ^The conflict 
of ideas and sentiments — ^The battle with illu- 
sions — A new species of comedy — The drama of 
discussion — ^The decadence of the dramatic — Tlie 
play — ^A new definition — Distinctive qualities. 

CHAPTER VII 

The New Techihc 185 

The tacit acceptance of convention — ^Voluntary • 
credulity — ^Planes of convention — Art rests upon 
conventi<Hi — Illustrations of artistic conventions — 
Art different from reality — Style in dialogue — 
Style a function of ideality — The broken scepter 
of verse — Artistic efficiency — The banishment of 
accident — The loss of finality — ^ITie soliloquy and 
its modem variants — Modern technical ingenuity — 
The form of tiie playhouse — Did it banish the 
soliloquy? — The tme explanation — Strindberg's 
suggestion — ^The aside — The apart— The confi- 
dant — Indispensable — The new alternatives — The 
raisonneur or expositor — The note of imparti- 
ality — ^The modem tendency. 



CONTENTS XV 

CHAPTER VIII 

PAGB 

Plat akd the Reabeb 9^1 

The publication of plays — The changed atti- 
tude — Twenty years ago and now — ^Literature and 
the drama — The Drama League of America — ^Thc 
old scenic chirography — The jargon of the stage — 
Ibsen and naturalness — ^Approximation to real- 
ity — Stage directions with the stage left out — 
Increased particularity — Character description — 
Thumb-nail sketches — ^Art versus specifications — 
Hauptmann, Schnitzler, Bahr, Pinero, D'Annundo 
— Wilde and the artistic sense — ^The fault of the 
personal — Bernard Shaw — A master of the new 
technic — Complete visualization of the stage — The 
barrier of the actor — Stage directions as social 
essays^Imperfect objectivity — The ideal specta^ 
tor — A new interpretation — Stereoscopic imagina- 
tion — The mutual reaction between artist and 
public — The resulting elevation of standards — 
Refinement in taste. 



CHAPTER IX 

The New Content 9SS 

The drama an image of the epoch — Every-day 
life accepted as normal dramatic material — The 
ancient view — The aristocracy of classic tragedy — 
Great events associated with personages of lofty 
station — ^Aristotle — ^Puttenham — Shakespeare — ^The 
poet of courts and princes — Indifference to social 
status of working classes — George LiUo — ^The pro- 
genitor of the bourgeois drama — ^Lessing — 
Schiller — ^The development of class consciousness — 
France— Voltaire — ^Larmoyant comedy — ^Diderot — 
Mercier — Sedaine — Miss Sara Sampson — Hebbel, 
the forerunner — ^Partial envisagement of true do- 
mestic drama — Hauptmann — Ibsen — Bjomson — 
** Scenes from private life" — The secrets of the 
alcove — Influence of modem fiction — ^The subur- 
ban note — Fresh air — The true drama of middle- • 
dass life — ^The decadence of romance — ^A trans- 
valuation of values — The degeneration of the 
hero— The triumph of democracy — ^The dominance 
of the heroine — The bankruptcy of stage he- 



xvi CONTENTS 

PAQB 

roism — The age of prose — ^The microscope versus 
the telescope — The development of mass conscious- 
ness — The new hero — ^The crowd — The ideal as 
hero — Atmosphere, environment, supplant the 
hero— " Scientific natural history" — Poetic jus- 
tice — Plato — ^Aristotle — Elizabethan practice — ^The 
long conflict — The new sense of justice — The loss 
of faith in intentional justice — Nature has no 
systems of morality — Justice achieved through 
humanity. 

CHAPTER X 

The Newer Tendencies ^1 

The new age — Evolution in form — Revolution 
in spirit — Drama as synthesis of all the arts — 
Castelvetro— Croce — A new revelation — Genius and 
taste — The drama as criticism — The economic ten- 
dency — Science versus creativeness — The drama 
conditioned, not determined, by accessories — ^The 
historical view — The dramatist and physical limita- 
tion — The materialistic influence — ^The new dis- 
covery — Constructive synthesis of the arts — The 
co-operation of theater and drama — Totality of 
eflfect — Art and nature — The new experimental- 
ism — Stimmung — The rise of the regisseur — The 
art of stage management — ^The prophecy of sym- 
bolic poetry — The organization of the theatre — 
Repertory — Tjrpes of audience — The Drama 
League of America again — Democracy and the 
drama — ^The drama as a social institution — ^The 
drama and the state — Summary. 



THE CHANGING DRAMA 



ii 



The critic will be a small genius, the artist a great 
genius; the one will have the strength of ten, the other of 
a hundred; the former, in order to raise himself to the alti- 
tude of the latter, will have need of his assistance; but the 
nature of both must be the same. In order to judge Dante, 
we must raise ourselves to his level: let it be well under- 
stood that empirically we are not Dante, nor Dante we; but 
in that moment of judgment and contemplation, our spirit 
is one with that of the poet, and in that moment we and he 
are one single thing. In this identity alone resides the pos- 
sibility that our little souls can unite with the great souls, 
and become great with them, in the universality of the 
spirit.'^— Benedetto Cbogb. 



fi 















DRAMA IN THE NEW AGE 



^Wliat is the problem of culture? To live and to 
work in the noblest strivings of one's nation and of 
humanity. Not only, therefore, to receive and to learn, 
but to live. To free one's age and people from wrong 
tendencies, to have one's ideal before bne^s ^es." — Fbded- 

BIOH NUTTZSCHS. 

''Art knows the true ideal of our times, and tends 
towards it."— Lyof Tolstot. 



The contemplation of any period of human 
activity at first sight reveals a vast network of 
intersecting interests. We observe a web inter- 
woven with apparently independent threads of 
ideas and passions, of ideals and sentiments. 
This is especially the case in the domain of es- 
thetics, where evolutionary process is continually 
retarded, arrested, or accelerated by the pristine 
energy of the human factor. Every artist im- 
parts the illusion of individuality. The ego, con- 
ditioned by race, place, and moment, seems to 
operate within the prescribed circle of his imme- 
diate limitation. Yet viewed in historical per- 
spective, the work of art inevitably falls into defi- 
nite position in the creation of the cosmic pattern 
of world literature. The tragi-comedy of Ibsen, 

8 



-< 



«' 



••• .•• . . . • . r ! 

• ••» ••••^j**, • 






■^ \ •.'•».•• > • '. .!_!^_'__ * _? 



• • .4 .• . . . -THE- CHANGING DRAMA 

the symbolist drama of Maeterlinck, the sociologic 
comedy of Shaw, the motionless pictures of Tchek- 
hov, the lyric romances of D'Annunzio, the thesis- 
melodramas of Echegaray, the temperamental 
comediettas of Schnitzler, significant as illustra- 
tions, co-operate in bodying forth the variegated 
design of the contemporary drama. 

A work of literary criticism is a true work of 
art only on the condition that it disclose in full 
illumination the guiding and shaping principles 
which express the true spiritual meaning of the 
epoch. Beneath the welter and confusion of con- 
flicting and apparently dissociate literary phe- 
nomena, criticism must reveal the life forces puls- 
ing through the literature of to-day. Only thus 
may the critic render intelligible and coherent 
the contemporary epoch in human consciousness. 
Only thus may the critic truly appraise literature 
as an organic expression of the growth of the 
human spirit. 

A critical survey of the literature of the past 
three-quarters of a century or less projects into 
the light the vast debt that literature viewed as 
a factor in national culture and world civilization 
owes to science and the doctrine of evolution. To 
give precision to our ideas, let us especially direct 
our attention to the contemporary drama, that 
branch of literature which is the subject of our 
inquiry. In the world of industry, the barriers 



DRAMA IN THE NEW AGE 6 

have fallen one by one beneath the patient, per- 
sistent blows of science^ of invention, of discovery. 
Twas but yesterday that the American awoke 
with a start to discover the disappearance of the 
frontier. Civilization had pushed on to the far- 
thest verge. The marvel of the Atlantic cable 
pales before the miracle of wireless telegraphy. 
A vast shudder shook England when a Frenchman 
obliterated with his aeroplane the ancient barrier 
of the Channel. The imaginative fancy of Jules 
Verne is dwarfed by the actual achievements 
in world circumnavigation of this very hour. 
Through the transforming magic of science, the 
nations of the world stand in perpetual inter- 
communication. Customs, costumes, habits of 
thought, modes of expression, once peculiar to 
locality and to nationality, are rapidly becoming 
world property. Cosmic solidarity is one of the 
supreme facts, the fertile contributions of the 
epoch. Only* industry and research have fully 
realized this accomplishment. Trade is bounded 
only by the limitation of the globe. Science pro- 
gresses unhaltingly, enlarging the domain of 
knowledge through the simultaneous scientific 
contributions of research everywhere. 

The scientist, be he mathematician, chemist, 
physicist, biologist, geologist, fixes his attention 
endlessly upon a single subject. That one sublime 
subject, upon which the eyes of science are fixed, 



I 



6 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

is NgJsiZfi. This cosmic example, as weU as the 
means for applying its lessons to other fields, is 
the example which science now sets literature. 
The artist in all ages has striven to express and 
reveal the soul of the individual. Within our 
epoch, the new spirit of science has breathed into 
the body of the artisit the breath of the world's 
life. Art and literature are beginning to speak 
with the international mind, the cosmopolitan 
souL We feel in the air that *^ epoch of world 
literature " which Goethe heralded and summoned. 
Nationality has not lost its meaning. The artist 
still recognizes that the more completely he realizes 
the national soul in literature the more surely 
will his work cross national frontiers. At the 
same time^ science has taught the artist that a 
consciousness of the feelings common to the citi- 
zens of civilized nations is more potent in winning 
the widest hearing and in attaining the most last- 
ing repute than a consciousness simply of the 
feelings peculiar to ,his fellow-countrymen. Slowly 
precipitating everywhere, in the retort of con- 
temporary life, is a basic substance of cosmopoli- 
tan culture, ideas, and inclinations. 

Contemporary literature is unique in one dif- 
ferentiating feature. The world author during 
his own lifetime has actuaUy attained the hearing 
of a world audience. Nay more, he has but to 
speak in the accents of genius and the words echo 



DRAMA IN THE NEW AGE . 7 

from the remotest fastnesses of the world. The 
genial humanity of a Mark Twain's good humor 
is reflected in countless tongues, even in the dia- 
lect of the savage. The trumpet challenge of a 
Rudyard Kipling resounds through the bounds of 
civilization. The bon mots of a Bernard Shaw | 
are immediately caught up and repeated in New 
York and Berlin, Paris and St. Petersburg. The 
philosopher who is perchance an artist as well, a 
Friedrich Nietzsche, a William James, or a Henri 
Bergson, gives cosmopolitan vogue to his theories 
and discoveries, and enriches the thinking of to- 
day with the terminology and concept of the 
Superman, of Pragmatism, and of Creative Evolu- 
tion. A Henrik Ibsen, isolate, cloistral, moves 
forward for all people the boundary posts of the 
world's drama. A Lyof Tolstoy austerely con- 
demns the classics of the world, even his own ; and 
points to the future in his formulation of a new 
meaning for art. A Richard Wagner prophesies 
the new art of a new social order, in which the 
** art work of the future '' shaD be the expression 
of the collective energy of a whole age, enlight- 
ened, individually, socially, morally. 

It is no longer possible to speak with the same / 
significance, as formerly, of English literature or ' 
French literature or Scandinavian literature. 
Their one-time individuality is modified through 
elements common to all. Criticism itself, since 



/ 



8 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

Taine, has become scientific — and so, cosmo- 
politan — ^in its aspect. The work of Strindberg 
stirs Paris; Sudermann wrings tears from Chi- 
cago; Shaw ravishes Berlin with his mocking t 
laughter; Brieux confounds New York with his • 
unashamed social antiseptics. Criticism frankly 
accepts these phenomena as typical of the new 
spirit. It is not that the artist loses his individu- 
ality, his sense of race, his consciousness of en- 
vironment. These things have always been felt by 
the artist, more or less keenly, in all ages. There 
is, however, in this modem air that the artist 
breathes, something which imparts a more poign- 
ant sensitiveness to the pressure of the force of 
solidarity. Even in such a matter as technic, the 
artist realizes to-day as never before the impera- 
tive obligation to measure up to the most ad- 
vanced demands of architectonics, of drama- 
turgies. Culture is coming to mean, not merely 
the enlargement of the actual domain of knowl- 
edge, but, what is perhaps no less important in 
the advancement of civilization, universal diffusion 
of knowledge of aU great intellectual and spiritual 
phenomena. 

The dramatist must run the gauntlet of merci- 
less inspection and criticism at the hands of his 
fellow-craftsmen. Furthermore, with a public 
ever attaining to higher levels of sophistication 
and developing more rigorous canons of taste 



DRAMA IN THE NEW AGE 9 

through contact with the best representative ex- 
amples afforded by other nation alities, the dra- 
matist of to-day must possess not only wide knowl- 
edge of his art, but astute mastery of its technic. 
Above all, with a knowledge of human nature 
more circumstantial, more minute, than ever be- 
fore — a knowledge contributed perhaps not less 
by science than by psychology, philosophy, or ' 
literature — the contemporary auditor is quick to I 
seize, quick to condemn, a lapse on the part of i 
the dramatic artist from the fundamental verities 
— the insuperable maxima, the irreducible minima 
— of human experience and potentiality. The 
dramatic artists of to-day, of all races and all 
climes, have a sense of common purpose, a certain 
uAitj of aim. This may best be described as the / 
intention of advancing the cause of civilization. 

It is just at this moment that our eyes are 
opened to the inner significance of this discovery. 
The ancient^reeks realized that man was a po- 
litical animal. The France of Molifere realized 
that man was a socjal_animaL The limitation of 
Moli^re — a limitation which sometimes his genius 
enabled him to transcend — was inherent in his 
reverence for society. It was not the structure of 
society itself which was at fault, in Moliire's 
view. It was man who, in violating the laws of 
society, originated his own tragedy, his own ruin. 
Moli^re teaches man the ancient lesson that he 



.y 



\ 



10 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

must not Tiolate the fundamental principles of 
life and that his most urgent need is to conform 
to nature. The guiding principle back of this 
human, this humane sentiment, is the social prin- 
ciple that society's claims must never be ignored. 
Man was not made for laws, conventions, morals, 
inhibitions of a thousand varieties. These laws, 
conventions, morals, inhibitions were made for 
man. Indeed, they were made in the interest of 
an artificial complex, perpetually in a state of flux 
and evolution, which we call society. 

In a certain sense, there is just ground for the 
modem man's dissatisfaction with Shakespeare 
and his conception of the world. For Olympian 
that he was, Shakespeare was assuredly not what 
we are accustomed to call a social philosopher. 
B^ore sociology, Shakespeare was. His is a 
drama of supermen and superwomen; they move 
in grand silhouette against the sky-line of the uni- 
verse. His heroes and heroines come nobly to the 
grapple with that force or power which is labeled 
Fate, Destiny, Providence, or the Divine Order. 
His dramas present the clash of the supreme 
struggle — Man at odds with the Universe. It may 
be admitted by the modem critic that Shakespeare 
created, in his dramatic hero, a more valid, a more 
credible superman than was ever previsaged in the 
convolute brain of a Nietzsche. The Shake- 
spearean tragedy is a personal tragedy. We feel 



DRAMA IN THE NEW AGE 11 

both pity and terror in these spectacles of the 
disintegration of moral, the bankruptcy of char- 
acter, the degeneration of will, the atrophy of 
conscience, the obsession of sexuality. In Shake* 
speare's conception of the tragic we discern a 
revolutionary sense of protest against the moral 
order of the universe. We are darkly aware of 
the delicate balancing of the divine scales in the 
passing of judgment upon a universe dense- 
packed with cruelty, hatred, injustice, failure. 

In both Shakespeare and Moli^re there is lack-' 
ing that differentiating quality which character- 
izes the dramatist of the contempor ary era. With 
all his passionate sense of revolt against the 
tragic cast of the universal life, Shakespeare 
lacked any ingrained conviction of social organiza- 
tion as a giant participant in the tragedy of 
human destiny. With all his shrewd and saga- 
cious exposure of folly, fraud, imposture, quack- 
ery, and personal hypocrisies, Moli^re never once 
bethought him of the crimes committed by society 
in the name of humanity. Whilst it may be urged 
with considerable justice that Shakespeare was 
no mere court sycophant, certainly it cannot be 
doubted that he was totally lacking in sympathy 
for the lot of the common man. With all his 
wit and raillery at the fantastic creatures of 
French social life, Molifere exhibited deep-dyed 
racial respect for society, its interests, its laws, 



s 



~w" 



la THE CHANGING DRAMA 

its obligations. The era of social democracy 
was not yet. But it was inevitable in the course 
(^ of civilization that a day must dawn upon a world 
grown sick of the individual, the confessor, the 
autobiographer. With that day came the philos- 
ophy of sociolojgy. To-day the world is envisaged 
in social guise as a vast structure of social laws, 
formulas, traditions, erected by man in his own 
interest for the sake of the State, the Family, 
the Race. 

^ The great discovery of modern life, the most 
potent influence which thus far has projected it- 
self into contemporary consciousness, is the dawn- 
ing suspicion, gradually solidified into belief and 
fortified into conviction, th at society has becom e 
t he tyrant of the universe. Error is imperfect 
knowledge. In the equation of truth certain indis- 
pensable factors are missing. Crime is not solely 
a religious or moral question. It is a social ques- 
tion. Indeed, crime may be defined as the product 
of imperfect social knowledge. In, the equation 
of conduct certain indispensable social factors are 
missing. Not crime only, but the petty annoy- 
ances, the grave injustices, the hideous inconsist- 
encies of life, must be laid at the door, not of the 
individual man, but of our social institutions. 

The real progenitor of the plays of the modern 
era is not an individual, but the Zeitgeist. 
Thoughts which have been in the air, sentiments, 



t 



/i'f*^ -* 



DRAMA IN THE NEW AGE 13 

passions, predilections, emanating from advanced 
individuals with enlightened social consciences, be- 
come gradually disseminated, and slowly diffuse 
themselves throughout the world. Many think- 
ers, many idealists are responsible for the con- V y 
temporary era. But there are four figures with 
accusing faces which emerge above the crowd of 
witnesses. Les Miserdblea was the first great 
beacon of fiction to light the path of the broken 
outcasts of society. George Eliot, positivist, 
sociologist in fiction, assisted in laying the founda- 
tions of this new fiction of tendency, the novel 
with a purpose— reformative, humanitarian pur- 
pose. Such fiction is popular in the original, un- 
defiled sense — democratic—" of the people, by the 
people, for the people." This social fiction laid 
down as its first principle an enlightened concep- 
tion of social duties, social obligations, and human 
brotherhood. The author of Anna KarSnina it 
was who said : " However differently in form peo- 
ple belonging to our Christian world may define 
the destiny of man ; whether they see it in human 
progress in whatever sense of the words, in the 
union of all men in a socialistic realm, or in the 
establishmeni^nrf-tt commune; whether they look 
forward to the union of mankind under the guid- 
ance of one universal church, or to the federation 
of the world, — however various in form their defi- 
nitions of the destination of human life may be, all 






/ 



14 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

men in our times already admit that the highest 
well-being attainable by man is to be reached 
by their union with one another." As early as 
I860, Henrik Ibsen, yet to write his monumental 
series of social dramas, was pointing out to the 
Norwegian government the educative influence of 
the drama. " The experience of all countries," 
he said, ** has sufficiently established the fact that 
dramatic art, in every age in which it has been 
cultivated, has, in a higher degree than any other, 
shown itself an important factor in the education 
of the people— a very obvious explanation of 
which fact is to be found in the drama's more 
intimate and direct relation to reality; in other 
words, in its greater intelligibility and in its 
easier and more general accessibility to the whole 
people." Twenty years later he was writing these 
pregnant words: "A man shares the responsi-c 
bility and the guilt of the society to which he 
belongs. Hence I once wrote : 

"To Iwe — ^is to war with fiends 

That infest the brain and the heart; 
To write — ^is to summon one's self. 
And play the judge's part." 

In the expression of such a view do we find a 
clue to the artistic revolution in the drama of 
our own day. To share the responsibility and the 
guilt of society is, at a single step, to arrive at 
the realization that society is- the culprit. A 



^ 



DRAMA IN THE NEW AGE 



16 



• / V 



( /' 



^tu 



Shakespeare maintains that the fault is in us that 
we are underlings. An Ibsen asserts that the ^ult \ — ^ 
is in society. The most acute and enlightened / . /^^, /" 
intelligences of our period have devoted themselves -/ , 
to the demonstration of the fact that our social i : / 
institutions are in the wrong. That is nothing ' i, _ 
more nor less than to convict mankind of social j ' -^ :, 
wrong-doing for which he himself is responsible, i' -'-^ . 
Social institutions are the work of man; and /' "^ - 
upon man falls the responsibility for their imper- \ 
feet and wrongful workings, the injustices they / ^ 
foster, the social inequalities they create. The ' f 
prime function of the dramatist of to-day isf to v ' 
bring man to a consciousness of his responsibility / 
and to incite him to constructive measures for 
social reform. 

It is incontestable that Moli^re was a social 
critic — in a sense. But certainly Molifere was not 
a social critic in the sense in which the term is 
employed to-day. Moli^re's definition of comedy, 
in his preface to TartuffCy is definitive in 
its exposition of Moli^re : ^^ A comedy is nothing 
more than an ingenious poem which, by agreeable 
lessons, takes man to task for his defects." 
Comedy then, as Moli^re saw it, was an ironic 
mode of education and castigation of humanity 
for man's defects as an individual, even as an 
individual in society. The contemporary dra- 
matist considers the drama an instrumentality for 



/ 



///■ , 



IT''-/ ' 






/ • * ^'• 



^ 






16 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

showing man, whether by pleasant or unpleasant 
means, his fault as moral being, as social creature, 
as guilty partner in the defective business of 
modem social organization. 

Such a conception brings us at once into sharp 
conflict with Moli^re's doctrine that the funda- 
mental purpose of every work of art, the rule of all 
rules, is to please. The lesson of Tolstoy, of 
Dostoievsky, of Hugo, of Dumas fih, of George 
Eliot, Dickens, Ruskin, is that the work of art is 
moral in its essence and has for its fundamental 
purpose not pleasure, but edification, purification, 
social enlightenment. Such a conception auto- 
matically imparts to art a specifically moral and 
ethical basis. Emerson even goes so far as to aver 
that every fact has a two-fold appeal: to sensa- 
tion on the one side, to morality on the other. 
Infinitely magnified is this appeal in the case of 
the drama, in which facts, carefully selected from 
the welter of life's purposelessness, are integrated 
by the playwright into a work of art. "Fine 
art," says so astute a critic of the drama as 
Bernard Shaw, " is the subtlest, the most seduc- 
tive, the most effective means of moral propa- 
gandism in the world, excepting only the example 
of personal conduct ^ and I waive even this excep- 
tion in favor of the art of the stage, because it 
works by exhibiting examples of personal conduct 
made intelligible and moving to crowds of unob- 



DRAMA IN THE NEW AGE 17 

servant, unreflecting people to whom real life 
means nothing/' Oscar Wilde's most original con- 
tribution to criticism was the theory that life 
imitates art. And surely comparison of the wan- 
ing influence of the church with the waxing influ- 
ence of the theater as a guide to conduct is a 
conspicuous verification of Wilde's suggestive 
theory. Miss Jane Addams, who speaks with 
exact knowledge of the inner springs of conduct 
among certain social classes, has recently said: 
" In moments of moral crisis now the great 
theater-going public turns to the sayings of the 
hero who found himself in a similar plight. The 
sayings may not be profound, but they are at 
least applicable to conduct." Indeed, we may 
go even further and assert that people of all 
classes, in moments of emotional stress, often un- 
consciously reproduce the expressions which they 
have heard their favorite heroes, heroines, or even 
villains utter in like situations. Only a genius 
in the simple expression of elemental feeling, when 
confronted by a crucial situation, is capable of 
giving voice to his natural feelings as if he had 
never witnessed a work of dramatic or fictive art. 
Even a large proportion of cultivated people, 
unconsciously imitative, follow in expression thej 
line of art. Conduct is often conditioned, even 
determined, more by the expression we give to 
our feelings than by the moral or religious influ- 






18 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

ences which are presumed to give rise to these 
feelings. 

The art of Ibsen and his followers has thrown 
open the doors to a new domain. This is the 
domain of social ethics. There is much that is 
sinister and dour in this new literature — with the 
attention perpetually fixed upon social evil and 
social tragedy. At times one revolts against the 
persistent depression of its tone — the horrors of 
heredity, the stigma of degeneracy, the decadence 
of morals, the conspiracy of social malfeasance. 
Despite this depressing influence, the moral basis 
of such works is a certain incorrigible optimism, a 
hopefulness which shines forth like a ray of light 
athwart the gloom. For morality, whether per- 
sonal or social, has at the back of it an optimistic 
urge. A challenge to reformation is there. For 
morality is ever forward-looking, and presupposes 
conscious exertion toward remedial and reforma- 
tory measures. 

Art is the fortunate synthesis of form and 
spirit, of style and moral purpose. The modem 
artist does homage, with George Eliot, not only 
to "the divine perfection of form," but also to 
"the secrets of a profound social sympathy.'* 
For he sees in his art work a means of improving 
the prevailing order of the world. Art becomes 
the means of evoking the social consciousness and 
awaking the social conscience. " It cannot be 



DRAMA IN THE NEW AGE 19 

denied," says Bruneti^re, *^that La Femme de 
Claude or An Enemy of the People is a true 
drama, nor that there are few novels superior to 
Anna Karhdna^ They constitute the proof that 
neither the theater nor the novel is incapable of 
handling social questions. There is requisite for 
the task simply more talent and greater art. 
Whoever has the very high ambiticm of treating 
social questions in the theater or in the novel 
need only bring to it, with the entire control of 
the materials of his craft, a personal experience, 
a detailed experience, a carefully reasoned ex- 
perience, of life. The number of literators thereby 
will be diminished, but the dignity of literature 
will be by just so much enhanced, and even still 
more the effectiveness of its iafluence.'' 

We shall acquire no true comprehension of the 
dramatic art of our own time if we do not take 
into account these three persistent streams of J 
tendency in contemporary thinking. The J)he- -/ 
nomenon of cosmopolitanism, first and foremost, 
confronts one upon every turn, and makes in- 
creasingly evident the broadened and heightened 
standards to which the contemporary artist must 
attain. " The man who expects to rise above 
mediocrity in this age," observes that spiritual 
critic, Francis Grierson, " must not only become 
familiar with the characteristics of his own peo- 
ple, but he must acquaint himself with the virtues 



' f1 



so THE CHANGING DRAMA 

, and vanities of other nations in order to wear off 
the provincial veneer which adheres to all individ- 
uals without practical experience, and mocks one 
,,\...,.J-i-***"" in a too conscious security of contentment and 
• ' ' * • indifference/' The growth of cosmopolitanism, 

the centripetal force, has been balanced with cun- 
^'"-♦ning economy by means of a steadily increasing 
sense of national|^v « the centrifugal force in mod- 
em culture. There is a marked similarity, often 
identity of form in the dramas of men and women 
of different nationalities. The variety and ver- 
satility they display finds its inspiration in the 
/ national spirit. Ibsen attained spiritual freedom 
in the atmosphere of Rome, Dresden, and Berlin ; 
but the Norwegian spirit, the national impulse, 
beats like a heart at the center of his art work. 
Strindberff, a very Bohemian in hiscosmopolitan- 
ism, continually exhibits the character, the out- 
look upon life, of the Swede. I have seen The 
focfoPTvUenma delight the cosmopolitan audi- 
ence of the Deutsches Theater in Berlin; but it 
was Celtic extravagance, Irish wit, which gave it 
verve and carrying power. Anatol titillates the 
sophisticated palates of New York and London; 
yet we realize that such sprightly raillery, such 
erotic melancholy, could emerge only from the 
fashionable purlieus of Vienna. The Great Divide 
sounds the note of universal passion and restraint ; 
yet it vibrates with the barbaric energy and Puri- 



DRAMA IN THE NEW AGE 21 

tan conscientiousness of America. Constructed 
upon like models, technically similar, the dramas 
of to-day exhibit striking dissimilarities due not 
only to differences of personal temperament, but 
also to racial and national distinctions in spirit* 
Along with this diffusion of the international 
spirit, this intensification of national characteris- 
tics, has proceeded the second current of influence. 
Beneath the pressure of social and humanitarian 
ideals, the literature of to-day has become sur- 
charged with intention. The man of letters, 
turned publicist, has become animated by a spirit 
of service in behalf of society, of the present and 
of the future. This may be interpreted, in esthet- 
ics, as a reaction from the doctrine of " art for 
art's sake." Such a doctrine was essentially the 
doctrine of the painter, the creator of those works 
of art least susceptible of moral intention. Baude- 
laire maintained that ^^ no poem will be so great, 
so noble, so truly worthy of the name of a poem, 
as that which has been written solely for the 
pleasure of writing a poem.'' Whistler airily dis- 
placed the noble muse in favor of a " tricksy 
jade"; and Oscar Wilde nonchalantly asserted: 
" All art is quite useless." Flaubert went so far 
as to inquire if a book, ** irrespective of what it 
saj/s/* might not possess sovereign beauty. To 
George Sand, rather than to Ibsen, are we in- 
debted for the modem revolt against the doctrine 



22 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

of art for art's sake. " I am aware," she writes 
to Flaubert, " that you are opposed to the exposi- 
tion of personal doctrine in literature. Are you 
right? Does not your opposition proceed rather 
from a want of conviction than from a principle 
of esthetics? If we have any philosophy in our 
brain it must needs break forth in our writ* 
ings.*' . . . 

Ibsen, with not wholly credible naivete, ex- 
pressed his surprise that he himself, ^^who had 
made it his life-task to depict human characters 
and destinies, should, without conscious or direct 
intention, have arrived in several matters at the 
same conclusiops as the social-democratic philoso- 
phers had arrived at by scientific processes." Al- 
though Ibsen takes care to disclaim ^^ conscious or 
direct intention," the whole series of his social 
dramas belies the statement. Preferring to be 
regarded as poet rather than as philosopher, Ibsen 
nevertheless shares with Tolstoy the doctrine that 
it is the duty of the artist to seek to improve the 
prevailing order of the world. The philosophy, 
the social philosophy, in the brain of the modern 
dramatists has assuredly ^^ broken forth in their 
writings." And to-day we confront an epoch in 
art devoted to the task of holding up the mirror 
to society, exposing social abuse, and inspiring 
efforts towards the improvement of the existent 
social order. 



DRAMA IN THE NEW AGE «8 

Finally, then, we see how contemporary drama 
allies itself with the future. A drama of *^ social 
predication" is a drama which presupposes im- 
perfections in the social structure. Such a drama 
serves as a direct excitant to social reform. The 
moral force of this manifest socialization of liter- 
ature is unmistakable. Men everywhere now, in 
the dynamic art of drama, are bending their ef- 
forts to the perfecting of civil life, the enlargement 
of the freedom of the individual consonant with 
the higher social interests, the improvement of the 
prevailing social and moral order of the world, 
in the interest of society of to-day and of the 
future. Long before Marinetti sent his multi- 
colored manifestoes fluttering down into the FicLZza 
San Marco, a new social futurism had been bom 
in the manger of modem art. The epitome of this 
new social futurism in art is found in the toast 
which Ibsen drank at a banquet in inauguration of 
the coming age : 

''To that which is to be: 
To that which shall come." 



n 



THE NEW CRITICISM AND THE NEW 

ETHICS 



"Do you really attach much value to categories? I, 
for my part, believe that the dramatic categories are 
elastic, and that they must accommodate themselves to 
the literary facts — ^not vice versa" — ^Henbik Ibsen. 



ft € 



The true' — ^is only the expedient in the way of our 
thinking, just as ' the right ' is the expedient in the way 
of our behaving." — ^Wiluah James. 

At a moment like this, when a new outburst 
of dramatic activity among English-speaking peo- 
ples is imminent if not actually present, it is a 
singular fact that criticism has not paved the 
way to popular understanding of the new drama. 
It is surely the f unction of the criti c* if Croce 
be right, to identifY_h imself withjhe artist in so 
c^apkte and sensitive a way as actuajljjo repro- 
duce within himself those creative processes w hich* 
go to t he making of t he work of art. Esthetic 
judgment strives ever to become more and more 
closely identified with creative art. Dramatic 
criticism, as a consequence, should be able to trace 
these new dramatic life forms as they emerge from 
the brain of the artist. We should then be en- 

25' 



» 



«6 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

abled to learn the actual evolution of the contem- 
porary drama throughout the course of its va- 
rious changes — its evolution in form, technic, and 
content. 

America is teeming with a vast horde of infi- 
nitely ambitious playgoers, no longer merely con- 
tent with seeing and enjoying plays, but intent 
upon understanding them. There are many pub- 
lics, each of which has a certain character, a cer- 
tain distinguishing attribute ; but there is one vast 
public which is untrained, untutored in esthetics, 
swinging, now this way, now that, in search of 
that which shaU gratify their fancy and delight 
their senses, tickle them into laughter, stir them 
to sympathy, move them to tears. This untutored 
throng, in its sometimes unconscious aspiration 
for " culture,'* wants to be taught what the mod- 
em drama is, what benefits it may confer, what 
advantages it affords as a means of social enlight- 
enment. Some new movement in literary art — fic- 
tion or drama, it matters not — ^was recently pro- 
posed in a great city of the Middle West, and 
there was a delightful naivete, indicative of the 
aspiring proletarian attitude, in the assertion that 
" if the thing went through, we would make Cfdr 
ture hum '7 More remotely, perhaps, but no less 
positively, this untutored throng needs to know 
the significance of the drama, the reasons for its 
structure, its tone, its intellectual cast. 



NEW CRITICISM AND NEW ETfflCS «7 

Our critics of the drama are unfortunately 
classic in predilection. Their academic spirit dis- 
dains to touch the drama of our own day as a 
distinct world movement) embracing the Scandi- 
navian countries, Europe, England, and the 
United States. They prefer to remain on the safe 
ground of accomplished fact. The works already 
produced in the field of dramatic criticism have 
been, for the most part, marked by refined scholar- 
ship, wide learning, and indefatigable research into 
origins. Such work is necessary and valuable, in 
that it lays the foundation for a proper under- 
standing of the historical basis of the drama. 
But it cannot be too earnestly urged that Amer- 
ica still awaits the dramatic critic, liberal in 
spirit, catholic in taste, who will set forth delib- 
erately, clearly, and without prejudice, the his- 
tory of the contemporary drama from the period 
of Ibsen down to the present moment. Already 
many signs are present that the time is ripe, the 
conditions favorable, for the arrival of this criti- 
cism. Only through the medium of such interpre- 
tation will it be possible to effect a rational 
orientation in regard to the drama of to-day, and 
to achieve a proper outlook for the drama which 
promises in the future to flourish in our midst. 

In the contemporary dramatic movement, noth- 
ing is more certain than the uncertainty of criti- 
cism in regard to the form, fundamental struc- 



V.. 



28 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

ture, and content, — ^intellectual, esthetic, emo- 
tional, social, moral, — of a contemporary work of 
dramatic art. The iconoclasm of modem dra- 
matic practice, the revolt of the modem craftsman 
/ and his demand for freedom to enable him to 

F 

open new paths for the passage of the creative 
consciousness, have proved vastly unsettling 
through the destruction of ancient superstitions, 
the shattering of outworn conventions, and the 
inauguration of new heresies. Gustav Freytag, 
presumably a modem authority upon the technic 
of the drama, wrote his Techmk des Dramas 
scarcely four decades ago. It is significant to 
observe that when this book was written, Henrik 
Ibsen had not yet stirred modern consciousness 
with his formidable array of social dramas. The 
whole hew realm of art disclosed by Ibsen and his 
successors was excluded from the field of Frey- 
tag's vision. It is this very realm which, by the 
richness of its intellectual content, the novelty 
and variety of its technic, the profusion of its 
newly created forms, awaits an interpreter and 
historian. 

Until near the close of the nineteenth century 
English dramatic criticism achieved notoriety, 
rather than notability, for its failure to recognize 
and to realize the great masters in drama for our 
epoch — Ibsen and Wagner. This failure indubit- 
ably ensued because Ibsen and Wagner, icono- 



NEW CRITICISM AND NEW ETHICS 29 

clasts in their respective fields of art, broke vio- 
lently with the traditions. The vital defect of 
English criticism was the inability to recognize 
that Ibsen and Wagner, for all their iconoclasm, 
succeeded in establishing standards of rigor in 
craftsmanship, seldom, if ever, equaled upon the 
ancient stage. There is always something of 
the iconoclast in the genius: the iconoclast and 
the reformer are phases of one and the same life. 
The genius still defies definition. That is an in- 
complete and partial definition which asserts that 
greatness consists simply in doing what other 
people have done but doing it better. To-day we 
should define this, not as genius, but as efficiency. 
Such a definition cripples the genius, clips his 
wings, bars all doors to creative imagination and 
constructive fancy. Since Taine, we have come 
to recognize that, in a certain specific sense, the 
work of art, no less than the human being, has its 
heredity, its origins, its transmitted qualities. 
But we also know that it is free to acquire new 
characteristics, to take new shapes, to compel the 
formulation of new laws. Genius is protean, crea- 
tive, subject to a vital urge which fructifies in its 
advance, resulting in the throwing off^ of new and 
hitherto unsuspected varieties. Genius in the 
Bergsonian sense is the creative faculty of doing 
what no one else has ever done before, and thereby 
setting new standards to be formulated by poster- 



80 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

ity, **The greatest artist/' Bernard Shaw ' 
rightly maintains, ^^ is he who goes a step beyond 
the demand, and by supplying works of a higher 
beauty and a higher interest than have yet been 
perceived succeeds, after a brief struggle with its 
strangeness, in adding this fresh extension of sense 
to the heritage of the race." 

The dram ais an evolutionary form . It is sub- 
ject to modification under the pressure of genius, 
and through cross-fertilization from the impact of 
other forms. It develops, grows in accord with 
the evolving standards of society. True drama 
springs from the inner essential compulsion of 
the dramatic artist to creative self-expression, and 
not from any motive, however laudable and 
Worthy, to conform to classical traditions or to 
current canons of taste. This is not to say that 
the artist can ignore the inherent limitations of 
the drama as an art form, or defy such rules 
as are unalterably fixed by the individuality of 
his medium. The true artist, however original 
or iconoclastic, can ignore only at his peril what 
Pater calls "the responsibility of the artist to 
his materials." 

It cannot, however, be too vigorously affirmed 
that while the drama is essentially a democratic 
form of art, in the last analysis it is not the pub- 
lic, but th e artist, who dictates the dramatic_ fprm. 
That revolution in dramatic art, which Mr. Walk- 



NEW CRITICISM AND NEW ETHICS 81 

ley lightly refers to as "the Ibsen episode," is 
clear in its demonstration that Ibsen dictated to 
the public for its adoption the form of the drama, 
subject to individual and racial modification, for 
an indefinite period. Ibsen's own plays have 
never swayed and carried with them the great 
public in English-speaking countries; but the 
plays of his followers in all civilized countries con- 
stitute the dramatic output of our time. This 
is a most significant circumstance, demonstrating 
that, regardless of popular approbation, the dra- 4^ 
matist and not the public is the ultimate authority 
in the dictation of dramatic form. Oscar Wilde 
was quite right in fact, if not in tone, when he 
asserted that the public is not the munificent 
patron of the artist, but that the artist is the 
munificent patron of the public. That fresh ex- 
tension of sense to the heritage of the race, of 
which Shaw speaks, is the contribution of neither 
critic nor public: it is the contribution of the 
creative artist himself. 

Since the " laws " of the drama were formulated 
by Aristotle, they have evolved ceaselessly 
throughout the ages. The dramatists of to-day 
chafe under the manifest injustice of having their 
works measured by the Aristotelian yardstick, 
long since recognized as two thousand years out 
of date. No matter how remarkable Aristotle 
may have been in perception, intuition, and analy- 



S2 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

sis, his formulation of the results of the practice 
of dramatists until his time are to-day invalid if 
only on the score of incompleteness. They can- 
not serve as " laws " for the governance and re- 
straint of contemporary genius. There is jus- 
tice in the protest of a man like Granville Barker : 
** In the drama we are constantly referred to the 
sayings of a person called Aristotle. I have noth- 
ing to urge against them, and their quotation 
when one of Gilbert Murray's translations of 
Euripides appears would seem to me entirely ap- 
propriate, though even then I might prefer 
Euripides wrong to Aristotle right. But if the 
first words about the drama, however illuminating, 
are to be treated in any way whatsoever as if they 
must be the last, then I protest. The drama is 
alive, and about life there is nothing final to be 
said. I protest that in art nothing but its physical 
boundaries should be taken for granted. . . • 
Surely the sign of life in art has always been the 
revolt against tradition, the determination to re- 
mold the old forms which will no longer perfectly 
contain or express the new spirit.'* 

The way-breaker in art, it must be granted, is 
at once disciple and master of his age. Disciple, 
because he must study and realize his age in order 
to be its interpreter and exponent. Master, be- 
cause he imparts to his product something per- 
sonal, incommunicable, inalienable — and thereby 



NEW CRITICISM AND NEW ETHICS S3 

dominates the thought and stimulates the emotions 
of his contemporaries. The technic of Ibsen has 
become the common mold into which the most 
noteworthy dramas of to-day are cast; but the 
genius, the spirit, of Ibsen no one has been able 
to imitate with success. The evolutional trend 
of all art, imaginative and realistic, impera- 
tively obliges the dramatist to make himself con- 
versant with — which is not at all the same thing 
as slavishly subservient to — the prevailing con- 
ditions of his art as practised by his fellow-crafts- 
men. If he is to reap to the full the benefit of 
both past progress and present innovation, the 
dramatist must squarely take account of all that 
has been done before him. The works of his fore- 
runners may furnish the new dramatist inspira- 
tion for fresh endeavors. These works may, on the 
other hand, hold up fingers of warning against the 
errors into which the authors fell. " To Alexander 
Dumas I owe nothing, as regards dramatic form," 
said Ibsen in answer to the inquiry of Brandes — 
manifestly an unconscious prevarication prompted 
by pique — but he significantly adds, ** except that 
I have learned from his plays to avoid several 
very awkward faults and blunders, of which he is 
not infrequently guilty." " The drama," says 
Pinero, " is not stationary, but progressive. By 
this I do not mean that it is always improving; 
what I do mean is that its conditions are always 



84 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

changing, and that every dramatist whose ambi- 
tion it is to produce live plays is absolutely 
bound to study carefully the conditions that hold 
good for his own day and generation." 

In the present time, when such practical scien- 
tists as De Vries and Burbank have shown that 
evolution proceeds, not invariably by infinitely 
slow processes extending through aeons of time, 
but occasionally by sudden and startling muta- ^ 
tions, one need not be surprised to find valid 
parallels in the domain of art and letters. Indeed, 
a resurvey of the history of the drama in the 
light of modem scientific theory indicates that its 
types, in the course of their evolution, have ex- 
hibited sudden and revolutionary changes, in par- 
ticular during periods when the drama flourished 
as the most potent of the literary art forms. 
The history of the drama is made up at once of 
the biographies of great men and of the biogra- 
phies of great movements — individual, personal 
factors and their inevitable consequence, direct and 
spontaneous outbursts of creative energy. If it 
be true that the drama is the meeting place of art 
and life, then there need be no surprise in the 
discovery that the drama is responsive to the 
conditions and attributes of the civilization which 
gives it birth. Aristophanes knew as little of 
the captain of industry or the conservation of 
natural resources as Shakespeare knew of wireless 



NEW CRITICISM AND NEW ETHICS 86 

telegraphy, Moli^re of Darwinism, or Hugo of 
Pragmatism. It would have been as impossible 
for Comeille to write a Ghosts or Calderon a | 
Waste, as it would be to-day for Bernard Shaw | 
to say what society will be like under Socialism. \ 
Shakespeare's conception of tragedy differs as \ 
much from Aristotle's as Ibsen's differs from 
Dryden's. Centuries separate the intimate the- 
ater of Strindberg, the one-act dramolet of 
Schnitzler, from the Greek drama, in that Olym- 
pian home of the plastic arts, and from the 
sprawling Chronicle play of the pre-Elizabethan 
]>eriod. 

This law of change finds instructive, often 
amusing, exemplification in the circumstance that 
plays, .like people, have a way of aging. In a 
revival, Our Boys may give all the appearance of 
a wonderfully preserved, but absurdly conserva- 
tive, old man. When Dundreary comes once more 
to the fore after a lapse of forty years, we are 
reminded of nothing so much as of a decayed gen- 
tleman. The artist of one age is the artisan in 
the eyes of the next. The rigid conventions of one 
period of art culture become the threadbare con- 
ventionalities of a more advanced epoch. The 
lyric romanticism of yesterday seems but the 
most artificial affectation to-day. Customs, man- 
ners, and even morals all become obsolete in the 
course of time. Human nature, in a word char- 



86 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

acter, alone remains the same. Plus fa change, 
phis c^est la meme chose is an aphorism that 
breaks down for the drama in its structural and 
physical aspects. The face of society and the 
conventions of technic perpetually change in a 
like ratio ; and once changed, progress seldom per- 
mits reversion to type. From time to time there 
may be a species of atavism, the ** throw back " 
of Ghosts to the type of (Edipusy for example, of 
Maeterlinck to Shakespeare and the pre-Shake- 
spearean tragedy of blood. But in general prog- 
ress is evolutional; and plays, after a certain 
length of time, varying with conditions and cir- 
cumstances, begin to ^^ date " in a hopeless and 
r deplorable fashion. " Everything has its own 
rate of change," says Bernard Shaw. ** Fashions 
change more quickly than manners, manners more 
quickly than morals, morals more quickly than 
passions, and, in general, the conscious reasonable 
life more quickly than the instinctive, wilful, af- 
fectionate one. The dramatist who deals with the 
irony and humor of the relatively durable sides 
of life, or with their pity and terror, is the one 
whose comedies and tragedies will last longest- — 
sometimes so long as to lead a book-struck gen- 
eration to dub him * Immortal ' ; and proclaim him 
as ' not for an age, but for all time.' '* 

In precisely the same way, the fundamental 
tone of the drama, its outlook on life, in the 



NEW CRITICISM AND NEW ETHICS 37 

course of time undergoes alteration through the 
influence of the evolutionary trend of human 
ideals. ^^ It has been said of me on different oc- 
casions that I am a pessimist," said Ibsen in a 
speech at a banquet in Stockholm in 1887. " And 
so I am in so far as I do not believe in the ever- / 
lastingness of human ideals. But I am also an 
optimist in so far as I firmly believe in the ca- 
pacity for procreation and development of ideals." 
As ideals in one stage of civilization tend to dis- 
integrate, they are replaced by ideals which are 
more progressive, more in conformity with the 
spirit of the coming age. 

Beautiful in sentiment, false in thesis, are the 

lines: 

''All passes. Art alone 
Enduring stays to us; 
The Bust outlasts the throne,-^ 
The Coin, Tiberius; 

Even the gods must go; 

Only the lofty Rime 
Not countless years o'erthrow, — 

Nor long array of Time." 

We are coming to see nowadays that art, in its 
monuments, does not enduring stay to us; that 
the principles which art embodies, the morals it 
enshrines, under changed conditions, tend slowly 
toward loss of appeal, toward loss of validity, so 
that the worth of the art work as a symbol of 
the enduring is ultimately vitiated. Nietzsche in- 
sisted upon a " transvaluation of all values.'' By 



88 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

transvaluation he meant re-valuation — ^with a 
difference. In such a process we are transported 
out of the old region of conventional valuation, 
across the boundary line, into a new realm of 
juster judgment and more clear-sighted appraisal. 
Transvaluation in ideals, in morals, necessarily en- 
forces a partial transvaluation in esthetic values 
— in that all art has a two-fold appeal, moral as 
well as esthetic. " It is not without deep pain,'* 
confesses Nietzsche, consummate artist as well as 
philosopher and moralist, ^^that we acknowledge 
the fact that in their loftiest soarings artists of 
aU ages have exalted and divinely transfigured 
precisely those ideas which we now recognize as 
false; they are the glorifiers of humanity's relig- 
ions and philosophical errors ; and they could not 
have been this without belief in the absolute truth 
of these errors.'* As we advance in civilization, 
we lose our reverence for those ideals, moral quali- 
ties, individual virtues, social predispositions 
which were once regarded as universally valid 
and obligatory. There is a corresponding, though 
not a fixed or measurable, waning of interest in 
works of art embodying these outworn values. 
The ancient values are replaced by new and more 
enlightened values, accordimg more precisely with 
the spirit of the age. Dramatists like Ibsen, 
Galsworthy, Brieux, and Shaw ruthlessly expose 
the tragic consequences of adherence to ^^ duties " 



NEW CRITICISM AND NEW ETHICS 89 

which are no longer obligatory; enjoin upon us 
the necessity of revolt against the tyranny of out- 
worn customs; inspire us to shatter the ancient 
social petrifactions which destroy the vitality 
and initiative of human impulse* The callous 
cynicism and brutal tyranny which make possible a 
Patient Griselda only shock a generation busied 
in granting to woman the rights of common hu- 
manity, of political and economic freedom — the 
right, in a word^ to normal development as in- 
dividual. / 

As social and ethical ideas and ideals evolve 
through the course of the centuries, the so-called 
classics of the past steadily weaken their hold 
upon the consciousness of humanity* But it must 
be pointed out that this loss is counterbalanced 
by the persistence of the esthetic principles which 
the art work embodies. We must not confuse the 
categories of ethics and esthetics. Historical 
criticism demands that the work of art shall be 
judged in the light of the ideals which produced 
it. " Art," says Alfred Stevens, ** is nature seen 
through the prism of an emotion"; and a true 
work of art, the vitally moving vision of nature, 
is dateless and eternal. It survives as a living 
monument of the buried life of the past. It as- 
suredly tends to lose its esthetic procreative func- 
tion — ^its power of giving rise to other works of 
art. We may admire and jealously preserve art 



1 



40 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

works which we would never dream of imitating. 
Jj Art as art is wholly independent of either utility 
or morality, possessing a value that is intrinsic. 
But when we create a work of art, we are ani- 
mated by a conscious or an unconscious moral 
motive. " We select from the crowd of intuitions 
which are formed or at least sketched within us," 
says Croce; "and the selection is governed by 
selection of the economic conditions of life and of 
its moral direction. Therefore, when we have 
formed an intuition, it remains to decide whether 
or no we should communicate it to others, and to 
whom, and when, and how; all of which considera- 
tions fall equally under the utilitarian and ethical 
conception." 

Procreative art works contain within themselves 
the germ of esthetic development, of utilitarian 
and ethical application. Imitation of the classics 
ceases when the classics reveal themselves as out- 
worn repositories of ideas, feelings, views of life 
which have lost their validity, verity and force for 
the modern world. The thinking of to-day has 
grown sanely pragmatic. Truth itself now has 
an utilitarian attribute : it must. " make good." 
Beauty is judged in the same way. The con- 
temporary artist has abandoned the esthetic treat- 
ment of false ideas, however hallowed, enshrined 
in classic literature. For this day, such ideas 
are false because they won't " work." 



NEW CRITICISM AND NEW ETHICS 41 

The questions, of form^ of technic, of content, 
raised by the persistent practice of dramatists 
during the past half century, demand conscientious 
treatment and adequate solution at the hands of 
ccHitemporary dramatic criticism. New ideas have 
forced their way to the front; new forms of art 
have met acceptance at the hands of the public; 
new dramatic conventions have replaced the out- 
worn and theatrical conventionalities of an earlier 
epoch. The pressure of realism and the impulsive 
thrust of the new social order have basically af- 
fected the structure, tenor, and content of the 
drama. The psychology of the crowd helps us 
to a more rational comprehension of the secrets 
of popular appeal. The architectural features of 
the modem playhotise are not without their subtle 
but unmistakable iii^uejice in conditioning the 
form of the >modem drama. More irrevocable 
than ever before is the divorce of play from public, 
actors ^rom audienccj^;.^;>&one is the court-yard 
stag^^f Shfl&espeare, ^ne the tennis-court stage 
of the Grand Monarque, gone the semi-circular 
platforln of but a c^tury ago.. To-day the illu- 
sion of objectivity is immense, the pictorial appeal 
inescapable. We gaze through a picture-frame 
encircling the farce or the melodrama, the comedy 
or the tragedy, of this, our time. 



^ 



m 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 

''In order to survive, a literary form most be as- 
dmilated by society, must demonstrate its utility by ex- 
pressing better that society's view of what is real and 
true in life."— John Pbbston Hoseins. 

I 

Any profound study of the evolution of the 
drama in relation to its formal development in- 
evitably le^s to a readjustment of view in regard 
to those marvelous, hypothetical formulas which 
the night-by-night chronicler of the passing show 
glibly and unquestioningly terms the ^^ laws of the 
drama.*'. Less than a century ago, prior to Dar- 
win's formulation of the theory of evolution, and 
long antecedent to De Vries' exposition of the phe- 
nomen4^:4^-9iutation, and William James' enuncia- 
tion of the doctrine of Pragmatism, such hamper- 
ing festnctions^as the postulates of the three 
unities stood virtually unchallenged as obligatory 
laws of the drama. Only three decades ago, 
Bruneti^re dogmatically enunciated the ^^ unique 
law of the drama." And to-day, the dead hand 
of formalism in drama still weighs heavily, a 
retarding force upon a noble art. Authority, 

48 



i 



44 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

masked in the garb of Aristotle, of Lessing, of 
Freytag, of Brunetiire, is invoked to crush the 
new movement toward freedom — the freedom for 
the exercise of the creative function in the pro- 
duction of new forms. 

The drama i s a life form, as well as an art 
form. As such, it is a function of the human 
spirit. Science, then, includes it within its survey ; 
and properly regards it as a species subject to 
variation and mutation. A vast domain opens 
before the new art criticism, which shall draw its 
analogies from the field of biological science — 
these analogies modified in accordance with the 
peculiar restrictions of the work of art as a life 
form. History affords innumerable illustrations 
of the variations of literary species in accordance 
with certain principles cognate, if not identical, 
with the laws governing biological phenomena. A 
given variety of dramatic form, — the fate tragedy 
of the Greeks, the blood-andrthunder drama of the 
pre-Elizabethans, the well-made play of Scribe, — 
undergoes a process of active evolution. This 
variety, by reason of its social utility, through 
insensible . gradations, a continuous improveifieivt 
and stratification, fixes itself as an accepted type 
of drama. When this variety has reached the 
stage of universal acceptance, the 'dramatist, the 
original human factors-introduces some new ul}j||>' 
character into the group of units which constituH 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 46 



e 

r 



11 



this particular type of variety. This originality 
of individual genius is as yet a complex and not 
altogether comprehensible phenomenon. Immedi- 
ately, a sharp mutation takes place: a new 
variety, individually distinct from the old, comes 
into being. 

The Greek dramatist created the species of 
fate-tragedy with the u nit ide a., of human panic 
and dr ead in face of the unpl umbed mysteries of 
inan^sor^n^£ujpose, and destiny. Marlowe and 
Shakespeare, reflecting the deeper instincts of 
Protestant theology, incorporated into the drama 
the unit idea of individual responsibility. The 
conception was so revolutionary, the transference / 
of the controlling will of the world from God to 
man so anarchic, that a new species originated. 
This was the drama of individual fatality, in 
which fate becomes synonymous with individual 
character and conscience. From the doctrine of 
evolution, Ibsen imports into the drama a new 
unit idea: the idea that the individual is the crea- 
ture of the historical momenta of social_ envirQn--, 
ment, of physical heredity . A transformation 
takes place, giving rise to the new species: the 
drama of i^atur^| isn). From the philosophy of 
mysticism, the contemplative sphere of Novalis, 
Ruysbroeck, and Emerson, Maeterlinck selects a 
unit idea : the id eaLthat passive virtue has a high er 
ideal value than constructive deeds. This unit 



( 




46 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

idea, projected into drama, legds^in^gritiglsmjto 
the theory of the static drama ; in dramaturgy to 
the emergence of a new variety : the drama of im- 
mobility. From the field of politics, Shaw imports 
into the drama the idea that words, the expression 
of inspired conviction, are not only as valuable as 
actions, but are themselves actions in the sense 
of being creative and constructive agencies for 
the influence and alteration of other people's (pin- 
ions. A new species is thus originated : thedrama 
o f^discussi on, in which volitional activity is ex- 
pressed by means of the free expression of opinion. 
These new species, as they come into existence, 
are brought into competition with already exist- 
ing species. This competition is fundamentally 
different from the biological phenomenon of the 
" struggle for existence," though it bears a super- 
ficial similarity to it. The true life form, in the 
biological realm, throughout the course of the 
earlier ages, did actually struggle, instinctively or 
volitionally, to maintain its existence in competi- 
tion with other rival, life forms. But Hoskins 
has astutely pointed out that different literary 
species can compete only for assimilation by the 
public. So long as a given species conforms gen- 
erally to society's conception of ideal truth and 
psychological reality, so long will that species 
continue to exist in demonstration of its social 
utility. Furthermore, a species, by reason of its 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 47 

perfection of form, may continue to survive, long 
after its social utility has been impaired and its 
ideas recognized as imperfect, outworn, or even 
triviaL The lUad, as epic, survives as a literary 
monument, not as a creative art form; the well- 
made piece survives by reason of the dexterity 
of its dramaturgies, in face of its singular poverty 
of ideas. No real struggle for existence, for the 

\ supplanting and destruction of another species, 
tan be said to take place in literature. For since 
the power of assimilation by the public is un- 
limited, the ^^ competition " of one literary species 
consists in its adaptation to intellectual and social 
environment, and in no sense involves as a conse- 
quence the elimination of another literary species. 
The people in the theater who sit as guilty par- 
ticipants in the social evils depicted by Haupt- 
mann still rejoice in the enlargement and in- 
vigoration of the human ego afforded by the in- 
dividualistic drama of Shakespeare and Schiller. 
The same individual is capable of experiencing, 
with pleasurable emotion, at once the acceleration 
of pube evoked by the romantic comedy of 
Rostand, the mental cerebration set up by the 
dialectic comedy of Shaw, the sociologic indigna- 
tion aroused by the tragi-comedy of Ibsen. 

In a genuine, and profound sense, a literary 
species may illustrate phenomena of survival, 
cognate to the biological phenomena of survivaL 



48 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

A l iterary species possesses fecun di ty In tw o 
f. figpses . First, as already shown, through its apti- 
tude for passive assimilation by society. Second, 
X through its power of creativeness. In the latter 
sense, a literary species survives when it possesses 
within itself the germs of reproductive imitation. 
That is to say, it possesses the qualities of perma- 
nent virility which result in inspiring the creation 
of similar works after its own model. An Ibsen 
creates a new species of drama; and this species 
as a model inspires countless followers of Ibsen 
to imitation and reproduction, with minor varia- 
tions. 

Both novelty of form and novelty of content 
are instrumentalities in prolonging the life of a 
sgficies. A question which naturally arises in this 
connection is this: which attribute, form or con- 
tent, is the more virile, the better calculated to 
assure the survival of a given species? A work 
of art, long after its powers of reproductive 
\ stimulation are entirely exhausted, survives for 
the sake of its form, as a noteworthy literary 
achievement. It is interesting in the history of 
literature as the fossil remains of the diaosaur 
are interesting in the history of science — as 
marking a transition in the evolution of species. 
Content, on the other hand, is a vital, living force 
— more accessible and more easily understood by 
the public than artistic form, which in its last 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 49 

analysis is mechanistic. The variation exhibited 
in any new literary species is effected by ideas 
imported from other realms of thought, and not 
from ideas already existent in the sphere of liter- 
ature. Since content, expression of ideas, appeals 
to society as a living, active issue, while style, 
form, is merely a passive virtue, it is logical to 
infer that content wields a wider and deeper influ- 
ence upon the life of literature than form. Per- 
fection of form serves as a preservative against 
*^the corrosive test of time. But content, an ex- 
pression of the universal life of the race, may 
exert vast influence even when the form is im- 
perfect. And furthermore, it seldom fails to 
contain the vital stimulant to imitative reproduc- 
tion so rarely lodged in form. 

In any consideration of the formal development 
of the drama, the new dramatic critic, with the 
enlarged view afforded by the most recent scienr 
tific discoveries^ in particular the theories of Dar- 
win and De Vries, views with suspicion the attempt 
to formulate absolute laws governing literary 
species. Indeed, the drama, viewed in the light 
of the doctrine of evolution, cannot be subject 
to a group of absolute rules or laws posited in 
advance. For since the drama, through the in- 
fluence of the historical moment, the pressure of 
social thought, the advance of civilization, under- 
goes a continuous process of evolution, the ^^ laws " 



60 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

of to-day may at any moment emerge Into light as 
the false generalizations of criticism based upon 
insufficient data. The perpetual intervention of 
that transforming force, the individual dramatist, 
in the realm of existent drama, gives rise to sudden 
mutations and variations utterly unforeseen and, 
indeed, not to be foreseen by the most astute criti- 
cism. The critic is estopped from formulating 
hard and fast rules, the so-called " laws " of the 
drama. It were idle to formulate theories, and 
afterward endeavor to force facts to conform to 
those theories. The modem philosopher, of the 
type of James and Bergson, concerns himself 
primarily with facts, phenomena ; and his concern 
is to devise theories, which shall satisfactorily 
and completely explain these facts and phenomena. 
The modem scientist, in particular the pure 
scientist, employs a machinery of reasoning which 
organizes itself steadily toward greater and 
greater accuracy in the determination of truth. 
The mathematician, the geometer, the physicist, 
can no longer satisfy himself with the bald enun- 
ciation of the general laws conditioning certain 
phenomena. For these conditions, unless minutely 
analyzed, may be deficient in two respects: they 
may not wholly suffice to explain the phenomena, 
or else they may over-explain it, and so involve 
redundancies. The principle of scientific effi- 
ciency demands that the scientist. In explaining 



v; 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 61 

phenomena, shall formulate his conditions in such 
a way as to fulfil three tests : they must be neces- 
sary ; they must be sufficient ; and they must con- 
tain no redundancies. They must be neither more 
nor less than, but exactly, enough to explain and 
produce the given phenomena. In the sphere of 
art, criticism must recognize the necessity for 
employing a like, an equal, scientific accuracy in 
formulating the " laws " conditioning literary 
phenomena. And furthermore, whether he be a 
Fragmatist or not, only at his peril will he evade 
the consequences of that doctrine. Only those 
principles of drama which survive the test of time 
can be termed the true principles of the drama« 
It is the business of the critic, if he can, to dis- %i 
cover the course of the evolution of the drama. I 
That, and not any abstract, absolute law, posited ' 
in advance, shall be the test of the drama. The 
true drama, then, is the drama which prevails ; and 
it is the critic's business to discover whether a 
drama of given form and content will in the long 
run prevail. 

Survival as the test of right, of truth, involves 
the obligation to include within one's survey the 
entire scope of history, and to make one's gen- 
eralizations from the largest attainable group of 
facts. The most that the critic can do, at any 
given moment, is to draw up a series of generaliza- 
tions based upon a series of scientifically accurate 



62 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

observations* From all tLe considerable and note- 
worthy examples of drama which history presents 
he must disengage those principles and attributes 
which are common to all. Furthermore he must 
align other generalizations with the trend of the 
drama contemporary with himself. "Laws of 
the drama,'' so-called, are empirical generaliza- 
tions, critical integrations of the practice of all 
dramatists worthy of consideration up to the 
present time. 

The most noteworthy illustration of this state- 
ment is the classic illustration of the three unities. 
In the light of modem criticism, based on scien- 
tifically accurate observation of the drama and 
of dramatic criticism of all time, it is obvious 
that Aristotle wrote primarily for his own epoch, 
and not for ours. Indeed, one may well question 
whether he was final in his Poetics, even for his 
own epoch. Certain it is that this "master of 
those who know " was no mere theory-spinner, 
advancing intricate hypotheses concerning the 
drama to exhibit his own intellectual virtuosity. 
Aristotle was an accurate thinker, basing his 
formulations of the principles of the drama upon 
a series of close deductions from a study of the 
plays of the Greeks. The enormous field for com- 
parison presented to the dramatic critic of to-day 
in the dramatic literatures of all great art-pro- 
ducing races throughout all recorded history was 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 6» 

not open to him. His criticism inevitably exhibits 
the limitations imposed upon him by the fact that 
he was restricted solely to an intensive study of 
the drama of the Greeks. Nevertheless, it must 
be acknowledged that he spoke with authority for 
his own epoch. And there be those who still 
iously maintain that he spoke with final au- 
thority for ours. A profound student of the 
drama of actual representation, that is, the play 
in a theater performed by actors before an au- 
dience, he arrived at many conclusions which were 
valid, not only for the drama of his own day, but 
for the drama of all time. 

On the other hand, as a simple illustraticm will 
show, he made ex cathedra generalizations which 
were scarcely valid even for the drama of the 
Greeks. " As for the story," he says, " whether 
the poet takes it ready made or constructs 
it for himself, he should first sketch its general 
outline, and then fill in the episodes and amplify 
in detail." The confessions of numerous modem 
dramatists, from Ibsen down, demonstrate that 
there are a variety of ways, which may be in- 
numerable, in which one may construct a play. 
In an analysis of the preliminary drafts for Ib- 
sen's plays, which is found in my European Dror 
matistSf it is shown that Ibsen pursued methods 
which varied according to varying circumstances : 
the nature of the play, the philosophic idea he had 



\ 



64 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

matured, the incidents from life which furnished 
the starting point or germ of a drama, the pecul- 
iar temperament of some particular individual 
or group of individuals of his acquaintance, cer- 
tain scientific discoveries, the atmosphere which 
he wished to create. We have record of the con- 
fessions of various practical craftsmen, showing 
both variety and contrariety in the task of writ- 
ing a drama. The injunction of Aristotle, nar- 
row and false as it is, sounds rather more like 
warning than advice — a warning against the 
Greek tendency toward a certain plastic immobil- 
ity. Aristotle may perhaps have realized that he 
was writing for all time ; he was assuredly shrewd 
enough to realize that it was his immediate busi- 
ness to write with reference to the stage of hia 
own day. Writing before an age like our own, 
grown skeptical of the practical utility of dra- 
matic criti^m, he took himself seriously, and 
wrote for the profit and service of the dramatists 
who were his contemporaries. 

The three unities — the unities of time, of place, 
and of action — are still inaccurately referred to 
as the ** unities of Aristotle." Modem criticism 
has demonstrated that, in his Poetics, Aristotle 
insists upon only one unity — unity of action . He 
actually does not lay down the preservation of 
the unities of time and place as fundamental 
** laws *' of the drama. Unity of place is not 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 55 

adverted to in the Poetics; and his disquisitions 
upon unity of time, as analysis shows, quite nat- 
urally prove to be merely his critical deducti(His, 
drawn from patient interrogation of the habitual 
practice of the ablest dramatists up to his time. 
Since his time, the critical controversies over the 
question of the preservation of the unities, which 
have transpired in all countries where the drama 
has flourished as an art, furnishes the subject for 
one of those elaborate, yet so far as the contem- 
porary dramatist is concerned, largely profitless 
disquisitions over questions which have passed 
from the field of practical utility. Not without its 
piquant humor is the memory that, in the days 
of Comeille, the odium dramaticum burned almost 
as fiercely as the odiiim theologicum. No drama- 
tist was awarded the critical seal of approval un- 
less he conformed to the three sacrosanct unities, 
Boileau, the spokesman of critical authority, re- 
formulated what he conceived to be the Aristote- 
lian principles in the terse and succinct declaration 
that a tragedy must show ^^ one action in one day 
and in one place.'* So convinced were the critics 
of the period, and of the two or three succeeding 
centuries, of the validity and universal pertinency 
of the "Aristotelian principles," that they be- 
lieved that, had the Poetics been destroyed in an- 
cient times, it would have been necessary to rein- 
vent, or rather, recodify, the same principles. 



66 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

V' Unity of time, so-called, was recognized by 
Aristotle as a characteristic of the dramas of the 
Greeks, and not at all as a distinctive attribute of 
the dramatic species. His words are eloquent on 
this point: "Tragedy endeavors, so far as pos- 
sible, to confine itself to a single revolution of the 
sun, or but slightly to exceed this limit." Author- 
ity, in the person of the Italian critics of the 
Renascence, Cynthio, Robortelli, and Trissino, as 
Spingarn has pointed out, stratified Aristotle's 
empirical generalization upon the Greek dramas 
into an obligatory law for the drama as a liter- 
ary species. Indeed, they went even further and 
limited the time for the dramatic action to " one 
artificial day." The generalization as to the unity 
of place is but an analogy after the model of unity 
of time ; and was erected into a " law " by one of 
the most subtle and profound of dramatic critics, 
Castelvetro. Two conceptions of the drama and 

' its influence underlay Castelvetro's theories in 
regard to the unities. In the first place, he con- 
ceived of the theater as a public institution, the 
drama as democratic by nature. In the second 
place, he anticipated the realistic temper of the 
audience of to-day in his conviction that people in 
a theater desire to see convention reduced to a 
minimum and reality raised to a maximum. He 
insisted that the dramatist, as a purveyor of ar- 
tistic pleasure, must defer to the public and its 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 57 

desires. This deference must be shown in obser- 
vation of the principle now termed the principle 
of economy of attention. Hence Castelvetro form- 
ulated the principle of the unity of place as well 
as that of time, under the sincere conviction that 
only by avoiding a change of place — ^with its 
fancied distraction and dissipation of attention — 
might the interest of the audience be fixed, con- 
centrated and maintained. 

These theories of the unities, erected into 
" principles " by the guardians of the academic 
school, obtained in the drama of Europe, with sin- 
gular and amazing effectiveness, down to the first 
decade of the nineteenth century. The plausible 
theories of the subtle Italian critics were dexter- 
ously put into practice by the French dramatists ; 
the assured artistic eminence of France in the 
drama exercised authoritative influence upon other 
European literatures. Shakespeare and the Eliza- 
bethans, Lope de Vega and his fellow-craftsmen in 
Spain, deliberately disregarded the unities, in es- 
pecial those of time and place, discovering as prac- 
tical playwrights that no loss in popular support 
of their dramas was entailed through their re- 
fusal to be subjected to the hampering restrictions 
of these unities. The Gallic spirit, bred in the 
school of formalism and erecting the principle of 
artistic correctness into a formula, rejoiced in 
working in a carefully restricted medium and in 



\' 



58 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

conquering the difficulties imposed by dramatic 
criticism. When with a burst of lyric fervor Ro- 
manticism culminated in France with Vic tor Hug o, 
f the anarchic spirit of the new libertarianism burst 
^ the bonds of the old formalism. In the famous 
preface to his Cromwell, Hugo formulated the 
code of the new freedom in dramatic art, and 
boldly disavowed the unities of time and place. 

The contemporary dramatists, from Ibsen until 
to-day, no longer accept the unities of time and 
place as obligatory laws. Nevertheless, in certain 
important respects, the practice of the contem- 
porary playwright demonstrates the occasional 
efficacy, if not the necessity, of preserving the 
unity of time and even the unity of place. The 
fancy of the spectator, it is true, enables him to 
effect the transition from place to place without 
shattering the illusion of actuality, provided the 
unity of action is fully maintained. Yet a cer- 
tain intensiveness of treatment, with a consequent 
maintenance of concentration of attention, is un- 
questionably advantageous. This, in fact, is an 
actual and indispensable quality of the drama of 
recessive action. The play representing the 
culmination of a long series of events which 
have transpired prior to its beginning, gains in 
focal interest and directness of appeal when the 
action is confined to a given place or locality. 
Moreover, the same considerations bespeak the ad- 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 59 

vantages of the preservation of the unity of time. 
Not perhaps in the actual sense; for it is seldom 
if ever the case that the drama, in actual repre- 
sentation, takes exactly the time consumed by the 
happening of these same events in real life. But 
the contemporary dramatist often employs the 
principle of " idealized time " with excellent effect. 
In the speech of the chorus to the public, in the 
Prologue to King Henry F, Shakespeare voices the 
artistic principle of the true dramatist in regard 
to idealized time when he speaks of 

"... jumping o'er times, 

Turning the accomplishment of many years 

Into an hour-glass . . . '' 

The spectator readily conspires to ignore brief 
intervals of time, in which no incident inherently 
relevant to the progress of the action has taken 
place. Indeed, there is a certain rational basis 
for the principles of the unities of both time and 
place. For they may both be regarded as sub- 
sidiary features of the unity of action. Unity of 
action may, at times, be best secured by preserving 
the unities of both time and place ; since needless 
lapses of time may weaken the attention of the 
apectators, and auxiliary incidents in a sub-plot, 
requiring a change of place, may distract the in- 
terest of the audience from the central theme of 
the drama. Furthermore, as Grillparzer has as- 
tutely pointed out, the question of time is inti- 



^ 



60 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

mately associated with action, dealing with the 
feelings and the passions which weaken in intens- 
ity, force, and appeal with the passage of undue 
lapses of time. 

While unity of place for the entire drama is 
no longer regarded as obligatory by the contem- 
porary dramatist, it is a generally accepted prin- 
ciple that there must be no changes of scene within 
a single act. For, in the rigorous technic of 
modern dramaturgy, each act is conceived as a 
unit, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. The 
totality of effect, the unity of impression, is best 
achieved from the act which is Itself a unit, not 
a concatenation of broken parts. Nevertheless, it 
must be acknowledged that, occasionally, note- 
worthy dramatic effects are achieved through 
changes of scene within an act. The pressure of 
modern realistic methods and the length of time 
consumed in an elaborate resetting of the scene 
make it highly impracticable to effect changes of 
scene within a single act. On the Continental 
stage, this latter difficulty Is avoided through the 
employment of the mechanism of the revolving 
platform, enabling several scenes to be set sim- 
ultaneously and obviating the necessity for dreary 
waits between scenes. But there is reason to ques- 
tion the value of the supposed advantage gained 
by the use of this mechanism, for the theoretical 
considerations already submitted. The practice 




SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 61 

was long ago condemned by Corneille ; and Lessing 
protested against this strain upon the credulity of 
the audience, caused by rapid scenic changes which 
could only smack of the miraculous. 

The one unity considered indispensable — and, 
indeed, in a sense rightly understood, truly indis- 
pensable — is known as the " unity of action." 
The inadequacy of the term is peculiarly apparent 
to-day, in view of the uncertainty of criticism in 
regard to the meaning, purport, and content of 
action. Aristotle rightly points out that the true 
drama must be an organic whole, to which all 
the constituent parts are vital. In so many words, 
he makes the apparently gratuitous observation 
that a dramatic action must have a beginning, a 
middle, and an end. But the entire structure of 
the three unities tumbles to the ground when we 
realize that unity of action is, no more than the 
unities of time and place, a differentiating char- 
acteristic of the drama. Every work of art, no 
matter of what kind, endowed with that type of 
structural unity which best holds the concentrated 
attention of the spectator, possesses antiseptic 
and preservative quality. It is not only art which 
is concerned for the preservation of unity: it is 
unity which is concerned for the preservation of 
art. In every literary type, from the homeo- 
pathic short story to the allopathic novel, from the 
dramolet to the epic, there is ever to be gained 



/ 



62 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

artistic advantage through the elimination of the 
non-essential. 

A machine is judged for its efficiency on the 
basis of "mechanical advantage," which is noth- 
ing more than the ratio of the useful to the use- 
less work it may be made to accomplish. This 
scientific terminology is certainly applicable to 
art ; and by analogy the " esthetic advantage " 
of a work of art may be defined as the ratio of 
those instrumentalities which create to those 
which fail to create the desired effects. Unity 
of action, so-called, is indispensable only in this 
precise sense: the esthetic advantage of the work 
of art shall be of such a nature that the instru- 
mentalities which create shall vastly preponderate 
over those which fail to create the desired ef- 
fects. 

It is clear, to-day, that a drama need not have 
a single action, with a beginning, a middle, and 
an end. Nor can it possess imity of action when 
it cannot be said to contain action in the sense suc- 
cinctly expressed and narrowly understood by 
Aristotle. There is one word which best expresses 
the temper of modem art^. Stimmung. There is 
no just English equivalent for this term. Mood 
possesses the unfortunate connotation of transi- 
toriness and evanescence; terivperament is usually 
thought of as a personal attribute. The creative 
craftsman of to-day may be said to have added 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 63 

to the three unities of time, place, and action a 
fourth unity : unit y of impression . This type of 
unity is most etfectively achieved in dramas which, 
on the side of physical activity, are static rather 
than dynamic. Variety and diversity of " action " 
usually tend to shatter unity of impression. The j 
more " action," the less unity of impression. 

ioactiiQli rather than a unity of action. The skill 
of Maeterlinck in achieving unity oi impression 
in his static dramas is a case in point. Yet it 
must be acknowledged that Strindberg in his 
Dctnce of Deaths Von Hofmannsthal in his Elek- 
tray Wilde in his SalomSj D'Annunzio in his Fran^ 
cesca da Rimini have achieved a certain definite 
unity of impression. And yet these are plays by 
no means deficient in " action,'* in the sense ccmi- 
monly understood. 

The modem play which achieves true unity of 
impression is suggestively described by the mu- 
sician as a tjmal poem. One tone sounds through- 
out the piece. Such a play would doubtless be 
described by the painter as a symphony — a sym- 
phony in green, or blue, or gray, let us say. A 
chosen color scheme, with nuances of a single 
primary color, may interpret the dominant mood 
of the piece. The relation between sounds and 
sensibilities, between colors and emotions, is a very 
intimate, though very subtle, relation. The mod- 



64 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

em realization of these intimate inter-relations 
may be said to account for the appearance of the 
stage manager* The very professional terms in 
current use convey this growing sense of the inter- 
relationship of the arts. The drama for the inti- 
mate theater is constructed after the analogy of 
chamber music. The drama, enacted within the 
field of the picture-frame of the proscenium arch, 
relies for many of its finer effects upon its qualities 
of pictorial appeal. Many a modem play, to em- 
ploy the phrase used by Wilde to describe his 
novel, may be termed " an essay in decorative 
art." 

A To-day, the creation of atmosphere has become 
e business of the dramatist no less than the 
problem of illuminative, co-operative setting has 
become the business of the artist-technician. 
Ibsen, Strindberg, D'Annunzio, and Maeterlinck 
tread hard upon the heels of Craig, Reinhardt, 
Stanislavsky, and Foster Piatt. The author of 
Hamlet^ of Macbeth^ was the first and greatest of 
the modem dramatists in the art of achieving 
unity of impression and continuity of effect. The 
most tragic artistic incident of modem times is 
the chronological mischance that the author of 
The Fall of the House of Usher, the supreme 
master of atmospheric illusion, came too soon to 
write for the intimate art theater of to-day, ancj 
of to-morrow. The treatment of an incident, dc- 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 66 

spite the drastic pronouncements of the natural- 
ists, can never be a matter of mere record. 
The most extravagant theorist of the naturalists, 
Zola himself, realized the personal, subjective ele- 
ment of all art in the definition that a work of art 
is a comer of life seen through the prism of a 
temperament. The transforming quality of art, 
falsely termed idealization, is the creation of a 
specific effect, attained by the artist himself and 
esthetically communicated to others through the 
prism of the artist's temperament. Facts, then, 
only afford the raw materials : they do not impose 
a specific mode of treatment. It is the mood of I 
the artist which determines the treatment of his I 
materials. 

A glance at conspicuous works of the most 
notable contemporary dramatists will convey, 
better than any theorizing, a true impression of 
modem practice in regard to the unities of time, 
place, and action, and the unity of impression, or 
Stirnmung, which is the particular contribution 
of modern dramaturgy. Ibsen, to whom one nat- 
urally first turns for revolutionary advances in 
technic, far from breaking away from the unities 
simply because they were limitations upon free- 
dom, conformed to them whenever his materials 
and their handling gained artistically through 
such conformity. The true dramatist, as the 
French have demonstrated, best exhibits his mas- 



66 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

tery by working within limits. The social dramas 
of Ibsen are, as we shall see later, culminations 
of a complex crisis; and this intensiveness of 
treatment is best secured by conforming to the 
unities of time and place, as well as of action. 

The supreme achievement of Ibsen, the creation 
of unity of tone or mood, was best attained by 
utilizing the other three unities in a perfectly lib- 
eral way. Unity of place is preserved whenever, 
by so doing, the unity of impression is best se- 
cured; it is violated with equal readiness when- 
ever the materials and the chosen treatment re- 
quire its violation. In The League of Youth, 
there are no changes within an act and the action 
takes place entirely within the limits of a single 
village. In The Pillars of Society, A DolVs 
House, and Ghosts a single room suffices; in An 
Enemy of the People, three rooms in the same 
city ; in The Wild Du^k, two rooms ; in Rosmers- 
holm, two rooms in the same house ; in The Lady 
from the Sea, different spots in the same locality ; 
in Hedda Gabler, a single room; in The Master 
Builder, two rooms and the veranda of the same 
house ; in Little Eyolf, the house and garden of the 
same country place ; and in John Gabriel Borkman, 
two stories of the same dwelling and the front 
yard. When We Dead Awaken, being a play of 
pure symbolism, though involving the change of 
scene from the coast to the mountains, really has 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 67 

no geography in the strict sense. With only this 
exception, which from its nature cannot be re- 
garded as a real exception, unity of place is pre- 
served in all of Ibsen's social dramas. There is 
a change of immediate place, whenever occasion 
demands ; never a change of locality. 

The same compression of treatment, artistic 
foreshortening, which demands unity of place de- 
mands even more imperatively unity of time. 
Dramas which are convergent and culminant in 
treatment embody incidents which move rapidly 
to a crisis. The action of The Comedy of Love^ 
which may be regarded as the first of Ibsen's social 
dramas, requires less than twenty-four hours ; and 
of the earlier heroic dramas, Lady Inger of 
Oestraat requires only five. Only a day may in- 
tervene between the acts of the comedy of intrigue, 
The League of Youth; The Pillars of Society^ A 
DoWs House and The Lady from the Sea require 
about sixty hours each; Rosmersholm^ fifty-two; 
The WUd Ducky forty; Hedda Gabler and Little 
Eyolf, thirty-six. For The Master Builder fewer 
than twenty-four hours sufiice; for Ghosts only 
sixteen ; for John Gabriel Borkman a bare three. 
The last-mentioned play exhibits the greatest com- 
pression in time. The time required for producing 
the play, on account of the changes of scene be- 
tween the acts (unless the revolving stage is em- 
ployed), is actually greater than the time con- 



68 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

sumed by the events represented, which are of 
unbroken sequence. Even An Enemy of the Peo- 
pie, in which the dramatic action conditions delay, 
may be imagined to transpire within the space of 
less than two days. It must not, however, be 
inferred, from the above examples, that Ibsen was 
hampered by the restrictions of the unities of time 
and place. In historic and fantastic dramas, fre- 
quent changes of place and long lapses of time are 
entirely legitimate; and Ibsen freely uses ten 
changes of scene in The Pretenders; there are 
seven or eight scenes in Brand; in Peer Gynt ap- 
proximately forty! The Pretenders, Brand, and 
Emperor and Galilean cover long periods of time, 
counted in years ; and Peer Gynt covers the quin- 
decennium of a lifetime. 

The greatest freedom and variety, in the matter 
of time and place, is exhibited in the works of con- 
temporary dramatists. The most conspicuous 
break with traditions is Bennett's Milestones, 
which deals successively with three successive gen- 
erations. No one consistently shows so close an 
observance of these unities as Ibsen; indeed, no 
dramatist since Ibsen has exhibited so com- 
plete a mastery or so persistent an employ- 
ment of the analytic method. Yet it is to be 
observed ' that in many of the most significant 
works of leading dramatists, especially in social 
dramas showing a culmination or closely knit com- 



SCIENCE AND JTHE NEW DRAMA 69 

pound of motives, the unities of both time and 
place are observed with scrupulous care. Obvi- 
ously the reason for this is inherent in the subject 
and its just mode of treatment, not in any servile 
.adherence on the dramatist's part to artificial 
** rules." Shaw's Candida requires for its action 
only a single room, and about twelve hours ; so 
also does Strindberg's The Father — though each 
is handled synthetically. The action of Giacosa's 
Hapless Love transpires in a single room within 
a single day. In certain of the purely natural- 
istic dramas of Hauptmann, designed to present 
a consecutive series of events, the unities of 
both time and place are rationally observed. 
In Das Friedensfest, notably, the tragedy is en- 
acted in a single room during the latter half of 
a single day. In the most notable of Galsworthy's 
dramsus. Strife^ "the action takes place on Feb- 
ruary 7th between the hours of noon and six in 
the afternoon, close to the Trenartha Tin Plate 
Works, on the borders of England and Wales, 
where a strike has been in progress throughout 
the winter." In The Two Mr. Wetherhys of St. 
John Hankin, the scene is Mr. James Wetherby's 
house, and the action takes some twenty hours, 
from the afternoon of one day to the afternoon of 
the next. These, and innumerable other illustra- 
tions from the plays of modern dramatists which 
might be given, only go to demonstrate the true 



70 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

Rationale of the unities of time and place, their 
/genuine efficacy in the compact handling of cul- 
minant situations. 

Certain substitutes for the " ideal '' treatment 
of time, common in the Continental drama of the 
last century, have been employed with excellent 
effect by certain contemporary dramatists. In 
The Two Mr. Wetherbys " the curtain is dropped 
for a moment halfway through Act II to represent 
the lapse of three hours,'' the same device is em- 
ployed by Pinero in Iris, by Barker in Waste, by 
Galsworthy in The Silver Box. The most signifi- 
cant employment of the unity of time, as a new 
technical treatment, is the representation of an 
action which takes a longer time in production than 
would the events or conversations in actual life. 
Ibsen furnished an illustration of this in a por- 
tion of John Gabriel Borkman. Another technical 
innovation is the " scene individable," the action 
in time, though broken by curtains, being con- 
tinuous. Kennedy's The Servant in the House, a 
conspicuous illustration, was a pioneer in the em- 
ployment of this technical device in English 
drama. Modem dramatists, notably Strauss and 
von Hofmannsthal in Elektra, Strindberg in Cred- 
itors, Shaw in Getting Married, to mention a few 
examples, exhibit a scene in which the time is un- 
broken. In the case of the last-mentioned play, 
the curtain was lowered twice during the course 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 71 

of the production — not because the action in- 
volved any intervals, but only as a concession to 
the need for relaxation on the part of the audi- 
ence, liable to fatigue through the strain of unduly 
prolonged attention. 

Dramatists like Hauptmann and Shaw, after 
Ibsen, have dispensed with the division of acts into 
scenes; and it is but the next step in technical 
advance to abolish division of a play into acts. 
In the preface to Miss Jtdia, Strindberg says : " I 
have tried to abolish the division into acts. And 
I have done so because I have come to fear that 
our decreasing capacity for illusion might be un- 
favorably affected by intermissions during which 
the spectator would have time to reflect and to 
get away from the suggestive influence of the 
author-hypnotist. My play will probably last an 
hour and a half, aQd as it is possible to listen that 
length of time, or longer, to a lecture, a sermon, 
or a debate, I have imagined that a theatrical per- 
formance could not become fatiguing in the same 
time. . . . My hope is still for a public educated 
to the point when it can sit through a whole- , 
evening performance in a single act. But that 
point cannot be reached without a great deal of 
experimentation.'' The most remarkable result 
) of such experimentation is the opera Elektra. As 
conducted by Strauss himself in Berlin, Elektra 
gave me the most tremendous emotional experience. 



I 



78 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

It leaves one emotionally drenched, physically ex- 
hausted. The dramatic evocation of mood, sus- 
tained without intermission for two hours and 
more, tries one to the extreme limit of esthetic 
emotional endurance. 

The age in which we live, subject to the influence 
of scientific research, is responsible in great 
measure for the intensive treatment of themes in 
modem dramatic practice. The vast extension of 
knowledge, the discovery of innumerable facts, 
laws, and principles governing the phenomena of 
human life, have compelled concentration upon 
the subjects of our examination. The telescope 
of the older epic poet has been exchanged for the 
microscope of the modem dramatist. It is just 
because modem life opens for us such panoramic 
vistas and widens so extensively the horizon of 
human possibility that we are forced to ^restrict 
ourselves to a limited field of vision. It is only 
through a microscopic examination of a small 
group of factors operating within a restricted 
field that we are enabled to arrive at exact knowl- 
edge. At the same time, there is involved in the 
examination an exhaustive knowledge of all ante^- 
cedent factors in the evolutionary chain of causa- 
tion. It is for these reasons, primarily, that Ibsen, 
the greatest technician in the modem dramatic 
movement, has consistently employed in his social 
dramas the analytic treatment which is equiva- 



/ 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 73 

lent, for this form, to a genuine technical dis- 
covery. 

There are, to be sure, two possibilities always 
open to the dramatist : the synthetic treatment, in A 
which the action is begun, continued, and com- 
pleted entirely within the limits of the play itself; 
and the analytic treatment, in which the action 2. 
shown is the culmination of a long series of events, 
the outcome of external actions and internal de- 
velopments. Rudolph von Gottschall once said 
that the Greek tragedies were really only the fifth 
acts of tragedies. The dictum, only mediately 
true for Greek tragedy, is the distinctive charac- 
teristic of the social dramas of Ibsen. The 
analytic treatment is as old as drama itself; 
classic illustrations range all the way from the 
(Edipus of Sophocles and the Hamlet of Shake- 
speare to the Maria Stuart of Schiller and Der 
Zerbrochene Krug of Kleist. Yet at no time in 
the past has any dramatist, or any group of 
dramatists, subjected the dramatic art to analyt- 
ical treatment for the creation of a chosen dra- 
matic type. Of the Greek tragedies known to us, 
those treated analytically are notable as excep- 
tions, not as types; Shakespeare, free spirit sub- 
ject to unities neither of time nor of place, various, 
many-angled, discursive with all the arts of the 
rhetorician, the lyric and the epic poet, employed 
the synthetic treatment almost invariably, as the 



/ 



/ 



74 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

technic best suited for the exhibition of his dra- 
matic fables. 

When we come to Ibsen, the scientific spirit of 
the age, with its demand for microscopic analysis 
in the interest of exact truth, immediate, particu- 
laristic, compels the employment of a purely 
analytic treatment. During the course of a dis- 
cussion of the complex problems raised by Ibsen's 
biography, which I had somewhat hesitantly un- 
dertaken, I once asked Dr. Sigurd Ibsen if his 
father ever acknowledged technical indebtedness to 
any dramatist who preceded him. The answer 
was significant. ** I never heard my father ac- 
knowledge that he owed such a debt to any one," 
replied Dr. Ibsen — " with but a single exception : 
Friedrich Hebbel." If we study HebbePs Julia, 
for example, conspicuous alike for analytic treat- 
ment and narrative technic, we may fully realize 
that Hebbel, on the technical side, was Ibsen's im- 
mediate forerunner and inspiration. In his social 
dramas, Ibsen aimed not at the presentation of 
situations as situations, but at a re-presentati on 
of the intell ec tual and s BJritual states-ofJiie souls 
of hie character s. He achieved severely realistic 
transcripts of life by such vital projections. His 
plays are not manipulations, but creations of char- 
acter — the inevitable events of an attitude toward 
life, a point of view, a frame of mind, a tempera- 
mental stamp. As Brandes put it : " The most 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 75 

esteemed German dramatists who preceded him, 
notably Friedrich Hebbel, came to be regarded 
merely as his forerunners. The French dram- 
atists, who in his youth were masters of the Eu- 
ropean stage, Alexandre Dumas and Emile 
Augier, became antiquated in the presence of his 
art. . . . With them there is still an intrigue of 
the old-fashioned type. One is told something 
from which he reacts. Such intrigues are never 
employed by Ibsen after the period of his youthful 
drama, Lady Inger. The essential features of the 
inner life of his characters are revealed. A veil is 
lifted and we observe the peculiar stamp of the 
personality. A second veil is lifted, and we dis- 
tinguish its past. A third veil is drawn aside, and 
we discover the profoundest secrets of its nature." 
The supreme technical achievement of Ibsen, one 
may fairly say his supreme technical innovation, 
has been the identification of the action with the 
exposition. It was that profound student of dra- 
matic art, Friedrich Hebbel, who recognized in 
the separation of the action and the exposition 
the principal barrier between art and life. In the 
analytic dramas of Ibsen, there is no such thing as 
" preparation " in the French sense, no such thing 
as " exposition " in the old- meaning. They are 
replaced by explication — the careful disentangling 
of the interlacing threads which constitute the 
dramatic fabric but stream out endlessly into the 



76 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

past. Until Ibsen had freed himself from the influ- 
ence of the French school, he continued to employ 
the purely synthetic treatment, in which the action 
develops itself before the audience. This is true of 
The Pretenders^ The Comedy of Love, Peer Gynt, 
Emperor and Galilean, The League of Youth. 
The method is employed even in one of the later 
dramas, An Enemy of the People, — a singular cir- 
cumstance which may be explained by the fact that 
it was a polemic piece, a play of external action, 
and was written in half the time Ibsen usually em- 
ployed in writing a drama. A blending, a har- 
monization, of the two methods is employed in 
The Pillars of Society, A DolVs House, The Lady 
from the Sea, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder, 
Little Eyolf, and When We Dead Awaken; the 
past and the present play nearly equal parts in 
conditioning and controlling the outcome. But in 
Ghosts, RosmersholTTi, The Wild Duck, and John 
Gabriel Borkman, all the fundamental facts have 
already transpired before the opening of the play ; 
and those episodes which appear before us are 
the necessary consequences of the earlier events. 
These dramas of explication, sometimes entitled 
the d rama of the ripendd s it uation, are master- 
pieces in the peculiar technic which Ibsen per* 
fected: the unveiling, during the course of the 
dramatic development, of the entire soul-histories 
of the characters through their mutual confess 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 77 

^ sions ; and the disclosure by this means of the 
entire fabric of the past as the determining and 

i omnipotent force. This procedure I prefer to de- 
scribe as the technic of devoilement. If we slightly 
change the figure and employ an English word, 
we may describe it as the technic of denudation. 
In a well-known letter to Goethe, Schiller points 
out as a distinct advantage of the recessive pro- 
cedure that the past, since it is irrevocable, is 
more truly terrifying than the present, with possi- 
bilities of freedom of choice. It may be true, as 
Schiller thought, that we are more deeply moved 
by the dread that something may have happened 
in the past than by the anticipatory fear that 
something may occur in the future. Certainly 
there is a steady deepening of the horror in the 
convergent series of disclosures unmasked by the 
frenzied King (Edipus, or revealed in the confes- 
sions of Helen Alving. 
/ The real innovation achieved by Ibsen, Haupt- 

tann, and the German naturalists was the em- 
loyment of the technical methods of fiction in the 
creation of the new drama. Both the convergent 
treatment of the short story and the narrative 
discursiveness of the novel were freely utilized. It 
will be recalled, as a conspicuous illustration, that 
Hauptmann dedicated his first drama to ^^ Bjame 
F. Holmsen, most distinguished of naturalists, 
author of Papa Hamlet " — the pseudonym for 






•i 






78 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

the collaborators Arno Holz and Johannes 
Schlaf in a cycle of remarkable short stories. 
jOne notes with interest, in the contemporary 
Idrama, the presence of epic, in contradistinction 
/to purely dramatic, qualities as a consequence of 
' the influence of fiction. The most striking super- 
ficial illustration is the elaborate " stage-direc- 
tions " of the realistic and naturalistic dramas — 
let us say of Shaw and Hauptmann. In reality 
these are no longer " stage directions '' : they are 
minute scenic descriptions and character delinea- 
tions. For the first time in the history of the 
drama, the stage-direction becomes an intrinsic 
part of the play. The information contained in 
these scenic descriptions and character delinea- 
tions in reality constitutes a wealth of epic detail. 
A further feature to be noted in connection 
with the new technic is, the new typ e of exposition 
which I have described as ■. e xplicatiph . In the 
drama of t he ripenedjituat ion, the characters are 
already fully developed and only await some slight 
event to produce the catastrophe. Since the action 
is culminant, it must be continuous and generally 
rapid. In order,, to reveal all the antecedent 
events, essential to a true comprehension of the 
characters and the story, the dramatist is driven 
to employ the convenient and familiar technic of 
the novel. Compelled to discard the approved 
French technic of an initial act of exposition, the 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 79 



modem realist slowly and only by degrees, 
throughout the entire piece, skillfully unravels the 
interwoven threads of antecedent happening. 'HaX" 
rative_here begin s to supers ede ^^ act ion ^^ in the 
modern^ jirama. For narration of dramatic in- 
tensity and pictorial appeal is needed effectively to 
reveal the long chain of causation which has led 
to the crisis exhibited in the drama itself. Narra- 
tion in dialogue form, of scenes dramatic in effect, 
thus necessarily supersedes, in large measure, 
direct dramatic presentation. The method of fic- 
tion in sustained suspense is freely employed by 
the dramatist of the ripened situation. The most 
significant of all the revelations arising out of the 
antecedent events is reserved until the conclusion 
of the draiiia. The penalty of the method is 
revealed in the consideration that the complex 
web of antecedent events, which can only be con- 
veyed to our senses through narration, becomes 
vastly more important, dramatically as well as 
determinatively, than the events of the actual 
drama itself. From the standpoint of technic, 
we have here another type of illustration of the 
mutation theory of De Vries. S cientificallv re- 
garded , the drf^ma <>f rpppftgi'vp fl/»fio Ti arises f rom 

the projectiQn.-Qfjthejexplicative metbods-jaf-fic- 
tion int o the jfield of tibe^djama treated assure 
culmination. 

Great as is the technical contribution of 



1 ' 



^ vl 



80 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

Ibsen, especially in the case of the drama of 
explication with analytic handling, there are 
tremendous difficulties in the way of its success- 
ful employment. Indeed, Ibsen has had few 
followers in the successful employment of this 
form. A very fine specimen of the analytic 
treatment is Sudermann's Heimat, which may 
be regarded as a widening series of successive 
crises. A true disciple of Ibsen in his technical 
methods is the young Dane, Hjalmar Bergstrom, 
whose Karen Borneman is a signal specimen of 
the drama of dSvoilement. Neither Zola's RenSe 
(the dramatization of La Curee) nor ThSrese 
Raquin are successful treatments, from the dram- 
aturgic standpoint, of the nemesis of heredity. 
With all its fine qualities, Hauptmann's Vor Soru- 
nenaufgang falls far short of being a masterpiece. 
Ibsen is his own best imitator in Rosmersholm and 
Hedda Gabler; and it ia noteworthy that the lead- 
ing figure in the former play, which after the fash- 
ion of Ghosts Ibsen intended to name White 
HorseSy is the ancestral spirit of the house of 
Rosmer. In Miss Julia^ Strindberg has achieved 
a masterpiece in the particular form employed — 
although here the influence of the past is insuf- 
ficiently inter-related with the lively action of the 
present. Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession^ in his 
case marked by the employment of severe economy 
of means, is a true drama of explication, not lack- 



SCIENCE AND THE NEW DRAMA 81 

ing In a certain restraint in treatment ; but, driven 
by his ineradicable sense of the ridiculous, Shaw 
has greatly weakened the play's effect by shatter- 
ing unity of impressicm through the gruesome, 
cynical levity of Frank. Ibsen alone has exhibited 
in its ripened perfection the form of drama best 
adapted to the treatment of heredity. He alone 
has stamped upon us in the theatre the dread con- 
viction, as voiced by Wilde : " Heredity is Nemesis j 
without her mask. It is the last of the Fates and f 
the most terrible. It is the only one of the gods 
whose real name we know." 

There is one other weakness of the drama of 
explication, with purely analytic treatment, 
which, in all probability, best suffices to explain 
the lack of cosmopolitan appeal in the theater of 
Ibsen's supreme technical achievements. This 
type of drama involves the pliTninnfmn nf v\v\i\ I 
action^ the abandonment of the continuous sue- \ 
cession of slight novelties in event, calculated to 
hold attention and win the throng. Since only 
the culminant situation is exhibited, a large part 
of the " action " must consist in explication — 
achieved in more or less natural ways through 
mutual confessions in the conversation of the 
characters. Persons who have not seen each other 
in a long time are more or less naturally brought 
together; and our knowledge of the past is de- 
rived through the conversations in which they en- 



82 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

lighten each other over the events which have 
transpired since their last meeting. The *^ ex- 
position '' of the conventional drama of former 
time is thus replaced by retrospective narrative, 
dexterously couched in the hesitant, exclamatory, 
broken dialogue of normal daily life. The retro- 
spective narrative, though referring to antecedent 
events, is animated, accusatory — enlivened 
throughout with gestures, hints, implications rich 
in dramatic suggestiveness. Nevertheless, this 
continual, enforced reference to the antecedent 
jfevents gives a distinctly retrospective cast to such 
dramas. The drama loves action more than con- 
templation, regnant prophecy more than mellow 
retrospection. Ibsen has written for an age which 
has passed the first flush of youth. The drama 
of reminiscence, though perhaps the most difficult 
iof all forms, is a drama with its face resolutely 
turned toward the past. The predilection of the 
great public is for the drama of anticipation and 
prophecy, buoyantly facing the future. 



IV 



THE NEW FORMS— REALISM AND THE 

PULPIT STAGE 



i€ 



May we then secure a theater where we may be hor- 
rified over ^the horrible, laugh over the laughable, play 
with the playful; where we can see everything and not be 
offended, when we see what lies concealed behind theo- 
logical and esthetic veils, even if the old conventional 
laws must be broken; may we secure a free theater, 
where we shall have freedom for all things save to have 
no talent and to be a hypocrite or a fool! " — ^August 
Stbindbebo. 



From out of the welter and mass of modem 
dramatic literature, certain general principles 
may be disengaged through a careful analysis of 
the works of the leading dramatic artists. This 
careful analysis suffices to exhibit a certain num- 
ber of dramatic forms which may be denominated 
new, not in the sense of merely possessing novelty, 
but in the exact sense that they are forms hitherto 
unrealized in the history of dramatic art. It shall 
be our concern, then, to classify and distinguisli 
these distinctively new types of drama. 

If we abandon for the nonce the employment of 
the words realism and naturalism, because of their 
uncertainty and vagueness, I think we shall see 

88 



84 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

that the most distinctive form of drama contrib- 
uted by contemporary art is what may be termed 
the d/ama of immediate actuality. T here wer e 
two prime reasons why the earlier drama tists 
f aUed to create such a ty pe. In the first place, 
the theater — wliich Shaw has aptly defined as " the 
last sanctuary of unreality " — was conceived as 

/'^ the arena for the violent, the exceptional, the ad- 
ventitious, the coincidental. The more startling 
the external event, the greater the success. Dist- 
guises, transformations, substitutions lent an air 
of quaint attractiveness to the plays of the 
Greeks, the Romans, of the French classicists, 
^nd of the Elizabethans. The denouement of 
countless plays was made to turn upon a happily 
discovered, but hitherto unsuspected, fact which 
did not untie but, Alexander-like, only cut the 
Gordian knot — making providential provision for 
every character and dismissing the audience with 
a delightful sense of justice poetically adminis- 
tered. In the second place, there was an instinc- 

i\' tive reaction against the policy of approaching 
too close to real life. The psychological drama 
of the past, with its exhaustive searchings into the 
mysteries of the human heart, the profundities of 
the human soul, erected one last barrier between 
the audience and the scene. This barrier was the 
locale^ the environmental circle within which the 
characters moved. The characters, even when 



REALISM AND THE PULPIT STAGE 86 

they were modern in tendency and contemporary 
in conception, were placed in scenes far remote, 
both geographically and temporally, from the 
audience. In the vast majority of cases, a ro- 
mantic setting was chosen, because of its likelihood 
to lure the audience away from the oppressing 
sense of actuality abundantly afforded by real 
life. Strange and outlandish countries — the 
stranger and the more outlandish the better! — 
antique castles, grim prisons, gloomy monas- 
teries, desert islands — these were the ancient prop- 
erties with which the dramatic figures, even when 
animated by contemporary freshness and vital mod- 
em temperament, were forcibly endowed. Whether 
the complications were bizarre, outr6, and adven- 
titious; whether the setting was remote and fan- 
tastic; whether the actions were violent, brutal, 
barbaric — the result was the same: to fulfil the 
fundamental prerequisites of romance. These 
fundamental prerequisites were the employment of 
a continuous succession of novelties ; the constant 
pictorial appeal to fancy and imagination; and 
the general purpose to tremsport the audience to 
a realm more strange, more beautiful, more won- 
derful than the garish world of tottrS le$ joturs. 
In regard to this conventional drama, Maeter- 
linck has happily said: " Indeed, when I go to the 
theater, I feel as though I were spending a few 
hours with my ancestors, who conceived life as 



\ 



86 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

something that was primitiye, arid, and brutal. 
... I am shown a deceived husband killing his 
wife, a woman poisoning her lover, a son avenging 
his father, a father slaughtering his children, chil- 
dren putting their father to death, murdered 
kings, ravished virgins, imprisoned citizens — in a 
word, all the sublimity of tradition, but alas, how 
superficial and material! Blood, surface-tears, 
and death ! " 

With the advent of Ibsen, we mark the tri- 
umphant creation of a drama of immediate actu- 
ality. His fundamental data were two : people of 
• to-day; time, the present. His drama is a com- 
bination of the older forms, in the sense that he 
avoided the unreal features of one, the unnatural 
features of the other. Under the ancient and 
classic formulae, unreal people were placed in nat- 
ural situations; real people were placed in un- 
natural situations; and not infrequently, unreal 
people were placed in unnatural situations. Ibsen 
set himself the severest of tasks: the placing of 
real people in natural situations. By real people, 
he understood people of to-day — of his own time, 
country, racial feeling, social hereditament. Nor 
was he content with observation alone as the 
artist's touchstone of reality. He insisted that 
the artist must be " extremely careful in discrim- 
inating between what one has observed and what 
one has experienced." Only this last, he main- 



REALISM AND THE PULPIT STAGE 87 

tains, can be " the theme for creative work." If 
we attend strictly to this, he says, " no e 
commonplace subject will be too prosi 
sublimated into poetry." And perhaps 
significant artistic utterance he ever n 
watchword of all true " realism " — is this : " Ana 
what is it then that constitutes a poetP As for 
me, it was a long time before I realized that to 
be a poet, that is chiefly to see, but mark well, to 
see in such a manner that the thing teen it per-i 
cnved by hit audience jutt at the poet xdw ttX 
But thus is seen and thus is appreciated that 
which has been lived through. And as regards the 
thing wMch has been lived throttgh, that it jutt 
the aecret of the literature of modern timet. All 
that I have written these last ten years (1864-74), 
I have, mentally, lived through. But no poet 
lives through anything isolated. What he lives 
through all his countrymen live through together 
with him. For if that were not so, what would 
establish the bridge of understanding between the 
producing and the receiving mind ? " 

Such a supreme test necessarily requires that 
the dramatist deal with people of his own world, of 
his own time, of his own race. The (jlrama of 
immediate actuality accomplishes at mice this 
prime purpose: the identificati on of the audie nce 
with the play. As you witness a modern play of 
Ibsen, of Bjomson, of Haaptmann, you recognize 



/ 



\ 



88 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

yourself in the characters and your life in theirs. 
And this, after all, is the supreme criterion for 
dramatic " realism," It is this quality of " recog- 
nition'' that makes memorable one "of^^lyde 
^*^ Fitch's plays, The Truth, with its almost di- 
aphanous realism and keen sense for local color. 
In the theater, are we the spectators, separated 
from the dramatic characters by a barrier of the 
footlights? Is this a mere spectacle that is being 
set before us, to amuse, to cajole, to flatter, with 
ancient tricks of structure and modem novelties 
, \o{ invention? Surely not, if the realist has, in 
Ibsen's phrase, ^^ established the bridge of under- 
standing between the producing and the viewing 
mind." Then, indeed, can we live, vitally, in- 
tensely, in the scene being enacted before us, iden- 
tify ourselves with the characters, and suffer, 
laugh, rejoice with them as with the living people 
of our own world. We are not enticed into lend- 
ing our attention : we give ourselves up utterly to 
the experience, forgetting that there are foot- 
lights, curtain, or indeed that we are in a theater 
at aU. After A DoWs House the bold bloodshed 
and gaudy theatricism of the past imposed upon 
Ibsen never again. The violent, the exceptional 
moment of life has yielded place in the theater to 
the claims of present actuality — life itself — ^with 
its problems of predestination and freedom, will 
and inclination, passion €ind restraint. 



REALISM AND THE PULPIT STAGE 89 

Just as the modem biologist concerns himself 
with the life forms of animals and the evolution 
I of types, so the modem realist scientifically studies f 
j7the life forms of hiunan beings and the evolution I 
of certain psychological, social, and ethical types. 
Especially is this procedure notable and conspicu- 
ous in the denotement of the modem woman. No 
longer are we shown women as ^^ fantastic sugar 
dolls," goddesses upon pedestals, angelic saints 
aureoled with cloistral sanctity, to be worshiped 
from afar. Nor, on the other hand, will she con- 
tinue to be portrayed as the domestic drudge, the 
plaything, and the toy of the average selfish and 
sensual man. Ibsen was the first dramatic realist 
to force upon modem consciousness the immediate 
Realization of to-day that woman is a human being, 
'with character as broad and deep, with rights as 
sweeping and sacred, as those of man. 

It may, with considerable justice, be urged that 
Ibsen has never obtained popular success in 
the English-speaking countries. The adequate 
reply is that, whether we do or do not like Ibsen 
is quite beside the mark. After seeing Ibsen 
played greatly — as I have seen him played in 
Christiania, in Berlin, in Chicago ; — after descend- 
ing to the depths of human misery with Haupt- 
mann, or running the gamut of tragic experience 
with Strindberg — it is impossible to experience 
the old insouciant enjoyment in the inanities of 



^ 



y 



90 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

the fashionable society-comedy, the lurid melo- 
drama, or the machine-made pieces of the theater 
of commerce. After the deep realities of Tlie 
Wild Ducky we turn with disgust from the vapid 
pruriency of The Spring CJucken! What the- 
atric and glucose sentimentality is La Dame aux 
Camellias after the high seriousness and enfran- 
chising veracity of A DolVs House! How unen- 
durable a Zaza after the religious yearning, the 
mystic sensitivity of Beyond Human Powert 
" What we have learned from Ibsen," says Bern- 

frd Shaw , *' is that our fashionable dramatic ma- 
erial is worn out as far as cultivated modem 
eople are concerned. What really interests such 
people on the stage is not what we call action — 
jneaning two well-known and rather short-sighted 
actors pretending to fight a duel without their 
glasses or a handsome leading man chasing a 
beauteous leading lady round the stage with 
threats, obviously not feasible, of immediate 
impine — but stories of lives, discussion of conduct, 
unveiling of motives, conflict of characters in 
talk, laying bare of souls, discovery of pitfalls — 
in short, i lltiminat ion of life J** 

The second great contribution to the modem 
drama is what has been unfortunately denomi- 
nated the drama of ideas. A more accurately de- 
scriptive title would be the drama of intellectual 
content. In this sense, I assert that the mod- 



REALISM AND THE PULPIT STAGE »1 

em drama began with Ibsen, not because he was 
the first great contemporary realist, but primarily 
because he inaugurated an epoch in art by 
giving an absolutely novel exemplification of 
the function of the drama. For centuries 
past, the critics have been saying what they con- 
tinue to say to-day : that the dramatist " cannot 
express more than the average of the prevailing 
opinions, of the ideas current in the surrounding 
social medium." He must address in. the theater, 
^. /we are baldly told, not a set of distinct individuals, 
I jbut the collective spirit of the species. That is 
to say, his is a problem in vital mathematics: to 
find the greatest common denominator of the com- 
posite public. Under such a conception, the dram- 
atist's real audience is, specifically, the esprit 
de corps. As the psychologist, Gustave Le Bon, 
expresses it, again mathematically, the drama is a 
" function of the crowd." This astounding, yet 
persistent, modem idea is admirably expressed in 
Johnson's familiar lines: 

"The drama's laws the drama's patrons give, 
And we who live to please, must please to live." 

Ibsen was the first man in the history of the 

drama who deliberately threw over this misguided 

idea, grown a-weary of " telling a lie in an heroic 

^ couplet." It is not the drama's patrons, but the 

.^ 'j dramatist's practice, which gives the laws of the 

drama. So passionate was his love for the ancient 



9« THE CHANGING DRAMA 

world that Swinburne once declared that he wrote 
his plays for antiquity. Ibsen, for his part, dedi- 
cated his work to posterity. Wagner magnil- 
oquently pronounced his music-dramas " art 
work of the future.*' In a very definite sense, 
\ Ibsen and Wagner were the first great Futurists 
I in art. The fundamental differentia of the new 
dramatist is his demand for that large independ- 
ence of rules and systems which Turgenev posited 
as the indispensable condition for great art. Just 
as Zola, the founder of naturalism, enlarged the 
conception of function of the novel, sublimating 
it into a powerful and far-reaching instrumental- 
ity of moral purpose, so the new dramaturgic 
iconoclast demands the stage as a medium for the 
dissemination of the most advanced views — upon 
standards of morality, rules of conduct, codes of 
ethics, and philosophies of life. His primal dis- 
tinction arises from the discovery of the ever- 
alarming and heretical doctrine that life is greater 
than art. He has done away with the impotent 
conception of art for art's sake. He has ushered 
^ in the new era of art for life's sake. 

In the great majority of cases, as a study of the 
genesis of his dramas proves, Ibsen created his 
dramas from an initial starting-point of some gen- 
eral idea or ideas. "First of all, Ibsen jotted 
down memoranda by which he clarified the intel- 
lectual problem and set the drama, in embryo, as 



'J 



REALISM AND THE PULPIT STAGE 9S 

under a miscroscope, before his eyes. These 
memoranda are usually of a philosophical, psy* 
chological, or sociological nature, pungent obser- 
vations upon life, criticisms of contemporary 
society, epigrams, thumb-nail sketches of char- 
acter. These noted ideas gradually seemed to 
group themselves, as if with sub-conscious design, 
around some generality of thought — a nuclear 
accretion around some central point. After a 
time, the principal characters of his projected 
play, minutely observed from life but always 
transmuted in his poetic consciousness, begin to 
assiune definite psychological character and highly 
individual attributes. Then Ibsen seems to have 
brought this experiential conception to bear upon 
the epigrammatic idea forms preserved in hap- 
hazard memoranda. This intrusion of his dra- 
matic conception into the field of his general ideas 
produced a remarkable effect-^the general ideas at 
once began to group themselves into symmetrical 
designs of definite contours." In this analysis 
of mine we see that the drama developed from 
quite general ideas ; but at the same time we must 
realize that Ibsen never wove his general ideas 
into a play solely for their own sakes. His plays 
must thus be thought of, not as thesis-plays merely 
embodying one germ-idea, but as artistic recrea- I 
tions of hiunan experience in the light of some ( 
general idea or ideas. 



-f 



/ 



94 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

The true dramatic realist does not create a 
drama for the mere object of expounding a given 
thesis. Nor does he permit his general idea to 
drain his characters of naturalness and verisimili- 
tude, leaving the mere puppets to exhibit the 
operation of his intellectual design. But he ac- 
cepts a problem, a generalization on life, a socio- 
logical datum, as the basis, the ground-plan for 
his structure. In accordance with this plan, he 
erects his drama; each part must structurally 
conform to the general scheme, and at the same 
time be consistent within itself — an unit within a 
larger unit. 

It cannot be urged too strongly that the thesis- 
drama is a mistaken form of the drama of ideas, 
of intellectual content, in the true sense. The 
fundamental defect of the thesis-plays of Dumas 
fUs, who may properly be said to have given the 
finishing touches to the " oeuvre & thise," is patent 
after very slight inspection. In a thesis, a gen- 
erality about life and conduct, a certain moral pre- 
cept is implicit. The purpose of a thesis-drama, 
therefore, is to demonstrate some general idea py 
means of particular incidents or series of incidents 
shown upon the stage. The thesis dramatist does 
not wish to present life, to draw from it the mean- 
ings implicit therein. He desires to " prove some- 
thing"; and in consequence he dexterously mar- 
shals his figures and his incidents for that purpose 



REALISM AND THE PULPIT STAGE 95 

and that purpose only. This procedure is alien to 
the whole spirit of imaginative art, and places the 
art of drama on a plane with the science of 
mathematics. It is that species of ^^ dramatic 
algebra " of which Lessing so contemptuously 
spoke: once all the factors on each side of the 
dramatic equation have been canceled out with 
each other, the demonstration is complete. Zero 
is equal to zero. In the last analysis, art is an 
esthetic process, not a scientific procedure. Art 
can never demonstrate anything. It is impossible 
to affirm accurately that the conclusions deduced 
from specific instances of real or imagined experi- 
ence do actually typify a general idea, or enforce 
an universal truth, "All these things (imagined 
experiences),'* says the intuitivist, !6duard Rod, 
"are mere * jeux d'esprit' of which I should not 
think of denying the pleasantness, and I admit 
that we are indebted to them for works which 
have moved us. But, if they have inspired a few, 
I fear they have spoiled a good many and cor- 
rupted fine talents. Nothing warps observation 
more than to demand of it a priori conclusions for 
or against a general idea, especially when the idea 
itself is the subject of controversy." 

Ibsen, Bjomson, Hauptmann have written great 
dramas of ideas; but the characters were not 
designed to illustrate and enforce these ideas. The 
fundamental generalizations upon life, conduct, 



y 



96 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

and morality lay implicit in the characters of these 
people, who were as real to the dramatists as the 
people of their personal acquaintance. By illmn- 
inating the interiors of their very souls, showing 
them in crucial situations, depicting soul-struggles 
transpiring within them, the great dramatist of 
the contemporary school convicts and confounds 
his audience with a consciousness of the reality, 
the sternness, the infinite possibilities of human 
I life. To awaken thought through emotion — such 
has often been narrowly defined to be the 
true and inalienable function of the drama. 
The contemporary realist fully recognizes the 
moral quality of all human experience, and 
avails himself of it to the utmost degree. It 
is not enough to make mere ^^ slices of life"; 
for life, with all its welter and confusion, 
is not instructive, amusing, or edifying, taken 
in slices. The business of the dramatist is 
to choose, from out this confused mass, certain 
characters placed in certain situations which im- 
plicitly carry their own meaning. Holding the 
kodak up to nature results in a " ccMn^ie rosse '* 
of the grosser Theatre Libre; only supremely dis- 
criminative selection will result in the great drama. 
In the sense employed by Goethe in speaking of 
/Moliire, we may justly say that the dramatist of 
the new school chastises us by painting us just as 
we are. The meaning, profound, disquieting, lurk- 



REALISM AND THE PULPIT STAGE 97 

ing implicit in his dramas of contemporary life, 
compels us to think deeply over the problems which 
he has raised — ^but not solved! — long after the 
immediate emotional disturbance set up by the 
play itself has subsided. Often the emotional de- 
rangement effected by a play results in rasping 
our nerves, rather than in " purging us through 
pity and fear"; but the calm reflection, which 
follows the witnessing of a drama informed by 
great ideas and portrayed by vital characters in 
natural situations, has a distinct moral value. 
Moral excitation means nothing more nor less than 
a summons toward the ordering of life upon a 
plane of purer thought and wider justice. " If 
thus the theater often causes me to think about 
certain problems," says the Russian critic, Igna- 
toff, " a habit is formed which is extremely useful 
in life, if these problems closely concern humanity. 
. . . The theater which stimulates thought not 
only leads us to sympathize with the weak and un- 
fortunate, but also to consider ways and means of 
helping them, and such reflection is a step toward 
participation in hiunan affairs." 

The modem spirit in the drama, it must be 
clearly indicated, is not achieved by the mere 
vapid renovation of ancient properties. The mod- 
em dramatist is not an intellectual sloven, merely 
following the laggard snail-pace of the crowd. He 
must not only keep in vital touch with his age, in 



98 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

order that his meaning and purpose may be com- 
prehensible to his audience ; he must be in advance 
of his age . As Ibsen puts it, he must be a franc- 
tireur along the firing line of progress. It has 
been shown that the application of biological 
principles to the drama as an evolutionary form 
must be radically modified in order to take account 
of the individual factor of the dramatist. For 
from the dramatist himself proceeds that art 
form which may open new paths for the future ad- 
vance of the drama. The characters which he 
creates must conform to the spirit of the 
age ; it is not enough that they be mere abstract 
chronometers of the time. Within them must lie 
the fertile, suggestive seeds of progress. They 
must be dynamic, evolutional, forward-moving, 
upward-looking, facing the future. The greatest 
dramas of the contemporary period may justly 
be regarded as heralds of a new time. They an- 
nounce the dawn of a new*cffl|ure. 
J. The ^ociqljffctm a. it may be surmised, is the 
third contribution of contemporary dramatic art. 
These are plays which start into life through the 
quickening touch of the contemporary ; and which 
endeavor to furnish forth an interpretation of 
society through the illuminative intermediary of 
all that is most vitally fecund, most prophetic, in 
the science, sociology, philosophy, and religion of 
to-day. They are concerned with all the crucial 



1 
V 



REALISM AND THE PULPIT STAGE 99 

instances of the seething and tumultous life of to- 
day — ^with the conflicts of social classes ; the strug- 
gle of the individual with existent institutions, 
current conventions, social determinism; the con- 
flict of human wills with recalcitrant circum- a/Ctu^^^^^^y-^' 
stances. If the c^rama of immediate actuality is^ ? -*<juc.4^ 
huma n, if t]|ie drama of intellectual co ntent is hu- • ^**"*^^ 

mane^ the S ocial drama is essentially h umanitarian 
in principle. Nor is the true aim of such a drama 
to be concealed: the exposure of civic abuse, the 
redress of social wrong, and the regeneration and 
reform of society. These it well may achieve 
through classic means: artistic fidelity to fact, 
satiric unmasking of human folly, and veritistic 
embodiment of human passion. 

The modern dramatist, bred on the exciting 
ferment subsequent to the French Revolution, and 
fired with the passion for individualism, which was 
the intellectual keynote of the nineteenth century, 
raised the standard of revolt against the brutali- 
ties and tyrannies of modem civilization. The 
c onflict of the modem social drama is the conflic t 
of ihfi jndividual with his environment, his her edity 
and his social hereditament : the individual against 
the world. A man like Ibsen, moved to philosophic 
doubt by Nietzsche, to scientific anarchy by Dar- 
win and Haeckel, to social criticism by John 
Stuart Mill and Henry George, clearly came to 
realize that for the future the artist's attitude 



r 



100 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

toward life must be not only revelative: it must 
be redemptive as well. The modem drama must 
be, not only a mirror to reflect surfaces veraciously, 
but also a Rontgen ray to penetrate the surface 
and reveal, beneath the superficial integument, the 
fundamental framework and structure of modem 
Ufe. 

It does not follow that the school of Ibsen sanc- 
tions propaganda as an artistic aim. The play 
which preaches is seldom art. The modern 
thinker, be he novelist or dramatist, can no Icmger 
ignore the social inequalities and graver social 
injustices which confront him at every turn. The 
artist may, and indeed often does, create a work 
full of profound social implication — without hav- 
ing a direct moral or social " purpose " in view. 
A specimen is that fine work of dramatic art, 
theatrical in the legitimate sense, Echegaray's El 
Gran Galeota. It is not the artist's immediate 
desire, in this type of play, to effect any 
special reform or correct any specific abuse. He 
has studied, observed, absorbed a certain group 
or phase or aspect of contemporary social condi- 
tions, and these he has depicted with all the dex- 
terity and skill which he can command. Seen 
through the strongly colored prism of his own 
individual temperament, the picture will likely 
appear to be significant, purposeful, rich in social 
implication. The ideal course for the true artist 






• • 



• * 



REALISM AND THE PULtlT* STAGE ' 1(51 *" 

to pursue, as outlined by Galsworthy, is : " To 
set before the public no cut-and-dried codes, but 
the phenomena of life and character, selected and 
combined, but not distorted, by the dramatist's P 
outlook, set down without fear, favor, or 
prejudice, leaving the public to draw such poor ' -" 
moral as nature may afford. This method requires 
a certain detachment; it requires a sympathy with, 
a love of, and a curiosity as to, things for their 
own sake; it requires a far view, together with 
patient industry, for no immediate practical re- 
sult." Galsworthy's own play,* The Fugitive^ is a 
very high modem example of the exhibition of ^ 
the true pity and terror evoked by the tragedy 
which follows a breach of current social and legal 
codes. 

Such a drama, as thus- outlined, when it con- i 
cems itself with distinctively social questions and / . 
problems, may be denominated the drama of sociall ^ 
implication. The most successful European prac- ^ 
titioner in this type of drama, fortified by a 
clearly defined thesis, is Paul Hervieu. The au- 
thor of Le DSdale has carried the thesis-drama to 
a very high pitch of excellence; his subtlety as 
a psychologist gives depth and carrying power 
to dramas which might otherwise appear merely 
symmetrical or schematic in construction. Severe 
logician, astute social thinker, Hervieu has suc- 
ceeded in charging his tragedies with a certain 



• • • • 

• • • / 



•- « • • • ^ •. - « 



1 



102 *' • I'HECHANtUNG DRAMA 

dynamic intellectual quality. The practice of 
contemporary dramatists, however, has thrust 
forward into view a second type of social 
drama more explicit in its purpose. This may 
be entitled the drama of sociologic injunction. 
The social dramas of Ibsen and of Gals- 
worthy belong to the former class. In his 
To-morrow^ Mr. Percy Mackaye has given a 
promising anticipation, in this type, of the 
greater American drama of the future. Ibsen 
declared that his vocation was interrogation, not 
affirmation. Galsworthy has disclaimed conscious 
purpose for the redress of immediate social evils 
— notably in the case of Justice, The social 
dramas of Shaw and of Brieux — though neither 
can be termed a realist in the sense in which I 
have employed the term — belong to the latter 
class. An interesting comparison is afforded by 
Ibsen and Shaw — the one as an exponent of 
the drama of social implication, and the other 
as an exponent of the drama of sociologic injunc- 
tion. 

The three types of serious drama find exempli- 
fication in the work of the Greeks, the Elizabeth- 
ans, and that of the contemporary school. In 
Greek tragedy we discern the inevitable conflict 
of the individual with Fate. CEdipus the King, 
of Sophocles, succumbs dumbly to the decree of 
an immitigable, foreordained destiny. The hero 



I v 



REALISM AND THE PULPIT STAGE lOS 

of the Greek drama does not, like Kipling's racy 
American, 

''Match with destiny for beers"; 

he matches with destiny for life, and loses— 
against the loaded dice of the gods. The second 
type of tragedy came with Marlowe, Shakespeare, 
and the Elizabethans. Destiny became synony- 
mous with human character itself. In every 
human being is lodged at once a heaven and a hell. 
Hamlet struggles vainly against forces within 
himself which he cannot overmaster and control. 
When we come to the time of Ibsen and Haupt- " 
mann, the individual has begun to take to heart 
the social doctrine that he is his brother's kfifiper* 
T emperamental, biological, abov e all social deter- 
ipikigm^in one form or anotherT ^a the modem V 
equivalent of ancient fatality. In The Weavers^ 
an oppressed class struggles pitifully, dementedly 
against a social condition which they can neither 
ameliorate nor remedy. Dr. Stockman, in An 
Enemy of the People^ comes into sharp conflict 
with society and the " world." The ancient tragic 
terror has become softened into something which 
seems very like social pity and altruistic con- 
cern. Stockman's is not a tragedy of blood, or a 
tragedy of death ; indeed it is not a tragedy at all. 
It is a serious comedy, a tragi-comedy, of only 
temporary and individual failure. Some day that 
** damned compact liberal majority " — the social 



104 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

conspiracy of financial self-interest — ^shaU yield 
before the puissant might of social right and moral 
justice. 

As Ibsen, together with his followers, may be 
said to have created a new type of drama, the 

I pure social tragi-comedy, so Bernard Shaw, to- 
/gether with Brieux and others, may be said to 
have invented a new type of drama, the pure social 
comedy. Essentially social in his spirit and eco- 
nomic in his outlook, Shaw jalways pitches his 
comedies in a militant key. He frankly confesses 
that his object is to make people uncomfortable 
— and who would venture to gainsay him? In 
the theater of Shaw, " we are not flattered spec- 
tators killing an idle hour with an ingenious and 
amusing entertainment : we are * guilty creatures 
sitting at a play.' " Shaw has nol hesitated to 
set before the public, through the medium of 
comedy, those views and codes of life which he 
himself holds with utter tenacity. Shaw's come- 
dies, because of the vexatious insistence he dis- 
plays in exploiting his own theories of social 
molality, are lacking in the quality of stable 
equilibrium. Though deficient in the note of 
urbanity, though vehemently, almost hysterically 
directed against outworn morals and decadent 
civilization, they succinctly fulfil Meredith's test 
of comedy : they awaken our thoughtful laughter. 
Bergson has acutely defined laughter as a social 



BEALISM AND THE PULPIT STAGE 105 

gesture. In the light of Shaw's comedies, one 
might ahnost define laughter as a soci(98g^B4fimp- 
torn. Shaw seeks to shatter that something rigid 
and mechanical, encrusted upon the living body 
of modern thought, morals, and society. His 
comedies, in the last analysis, are frantic socio- 
logic ebullitions upon the surface of modem dra- 
matic art. If social pity is the underlying motive 
of the later Russian novelists, if humanitarian 
concern is the moving force of the dramas of 
Ibsen, Bjomson, Hauptmann, and their followers, 
^ociologic indignation is the driving force in the 
dramas of Shaw and Brieux. 

It was D'Alembert, a scientist, who said that 
the stage was ^^ morals carried into action ; rules 
reduced to examples." This pronouncement may 
literally be interpreted as a prophecy of the con- 
temporary drama of social morality. The fun- 
damental weakness of the drama of sociologic in- 
junction is the temptation therein afforded the 
dramatist, not to evoke a true picture of human 
life, but to construct a " thesis-play " which pur- 
ports to enforce a general principle by means 
of a particular example. Dramas which wrest 
the facts of life from their true setting in the 
effort to enforce a particular thesis are indefensi- 
ble from the standpoint of esthetics. But the 
best examples of the drama of sociologic injunc- 
tion escape this criticism by creating the 






106 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

dramatic conjuncture out of the individual and 
social obligations of the chosen theme. The writer 
of the modem drama of sociologic injunction 
often deliberately assumes the surplice of the 
priest of art, and employs the theater as the 
pulpit from which he hurls his anathemas at the 
churlish throng. This is not an esthetic process, 
but an ethical procedure . The ancient impassi- 
bility has given place to a passionate sense of 
social obligation to speak out, to pronounce judg- 
ment ex cathedra, to hand down the tables of the 
new social commandments. In limning a word- 
picture of the insouciant audacity of the charac- 
teristic type of contemporary art and life, Mr. 
Gilbert Chesterton recently said : " We know we 
are brilliant and distinguished, but we do not know 
that we are right. We swagger in fantastic artis- 
tic costumes; we praise ourselves; we fling epi- 
grams right and left; we have the courage to 
play the egotist, and the courage to play the fool, 
but we have not the courage to preach." Mr. 
Chesterton, we suspect, must have been thinking 
of himself and his Protean roles when he wrote 
this passage; he certainly could not have been 
thinking of a novelist like Zola or Tolstoy, of a 
dramatist like Brieux or Shaw. These men fully 
realize and eagerly assume the sacerdotal func- 
tions of the modem artist. Brieux looks upon 
the theater as an institution for social instruction 



REALISM AND THE PULPIT STAGE 107 

and moral injunction no whit inferior to the 
iChurch. During the most active period of his 
career as a dramatic critic, Shaw won attention 
'not merely through his cleverness ; he caught and 
held his audience because he was not content 
with writing only dramatic criticism. He per- 
sisted in writing of the theater, indeed in preach- 
ing about the theater, as a " factory of thought, 
a prompter of conscience, an elucidator of social 
conduct, an armory against despair and dullness, 
and a temple of the Ascent of Man." It is be- 
coming well recognized to-day that the theater 
has actually begun to challenge the Church as an 
instnmientality for inculcating in the popular 
throng just and adequate codes of individual and 
social conduct. In this day, when hundreds of 
thousands of people daily witness monographic 
representations of the vast dramas of the life of 
Christ, of Ben Hur, of such secular sermons as 
Sienkiewickz's Quo VadiSy or Bunyan's Pilgrim^s 
Progress, one may readily realize the challenge of 
this new feature of dramatic representation, not 
only to the claims, but also to the achievements of 
the Church, as a " prompter of conscience '* and 
** an elucidator of social conduct." When the mod- 
em social dramatist re-enforces the visual appeal, 
and the trenchant " argument of the flesh," with 
the tremendously potent argument of dramatized 
morals and philosophy, couched in the most telling 



108 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

phraseology and fortified with all the arts of the 
orator, the dialectician, and the preacher, it is 
easy to foresee the immense social role the theater 
is predestined to play in the civilization of the 
future. 

The Church — one needs but to affirm it to win 
acceptance of the affirmation almost without the 
[necessity for argument — is steadily losing ground, 
Iboth in directness of appeal and potency of effect. 
Everywhere are to be encountered not merely signs 
of a "growing imrest," but an active protest 
against the social passivity of the modem Church, 
The insincerity and cowardice of the great mass 
of those who hold the church pulpits of to-day is 
in nothing so clearly demonstrated as in their 
evasion of the monumental task of making their 
religious practice square with their intellectual 
theories. So long as creed and not conduct re- 
mains the test of " revealed religion," so long will 
the Church be threatened by the challenge of a 
great social institution so powerful as the theater, 
in which conduct and applied morality do actually 
constitute the fundamental test. The difference 
between the Church and the theater finds its 
analogy in the difference between critical com- 
mentary and narrative literature. The former is 
concerned with description ; the latter is concerned 
with representation. Nor would it even be accu- 
rate to complete the analogy, since the Church has 



REALISM AND THE PULPIT STAGE 109 

shirked the prime requisite of all criticism: sin- 
cerity. The average church-goer distrusts the 
average preacher; for he knows that the deeper 
problems of the origin, growth, and authenticity 
of the Scriptures are sedulously avoided, through 
a craven fear that admission of doubt about any 
portion of the Scriptures may tend to shake and 
undermine the foimdations of Christian belief. In 
consequence, the preacher impotently falls back 
upon the endlessly monotonous practice of Scrip- 
tural exegesis, and thereby only succeeds in wid- 
ening the chasm which has begun to yawn between 
the Church's "teaching" and the great central 
realities of practical living. 

Fine art, it has long been recognized, is one of . 
the most potent instrumentalities known for the ] 
inculcation of moral principles. The force of ex- 
ample, the illustration of personal conduct in act- 
ual or imagined life, is rightly believed to be un- 
paralleled in its influence upon the life of man. 
But life, nature, is only an unconscious teacher: 
it may indifferently influence to good or lead to 
evil. The attribution of conscious intellectual or 
moral design to nature — ^the fanciful diversion of 
a Maeterlinck or the philosophical speculation of 
a Bergson — ^is at best a scientific hypothesis ; and 
at worst an artistic fancy. Fine art is selection ; 
the dramatist carefully chooses from out the 
welter and chaos of actual or imagined incidents, 



110 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

those particular Incidents which establish a chain 
of intellectual, social, or moral causation. The 
drama, as the most objective of all the arts — since 
it is at once the indissoluble union and coalescence 
of all the arts — exerts an influence in moral 
/propaganda that has never been calculated, for 
the very reason that it is incalculable. The mod- 
ern social dramatist, who is both true to the 
principles of his art and instinct with definite moral 
purpose, becomes an interpreter of life — ^the 
guardian of life's holy mysteries, the prophet of 
life's vaster hopes and possibilities. 

The theater is beginning to influence a wider 
circle of human beings than the Church. The 
congregation, approximately speaking, is always 
the same — from Sunday to Sunday. The audi- 
ence in the theater changes from night to night. 
The Church as a social force is steadily losing 
ground; the theater as a social force is rapidly 
gaining ground. It is almost needless to point 
out, in this connection, that it is just because the 
Church does not live up to its possibilities and its 
responsibilities as an engine of social service that 
it is leaving indifference and apathy in its wake. 
To identify with, to utilize for, its own transcend- 
ant purposes, the potentialities of a science such 
as eugenics, of an art such as the drama, is one 
of the obvious ways in which the Church may 
hope and confidently expect to regain its hold 



/ 



REALISM AND THE PULPIT STAGE 111 

over the minds, the hearts, and the consciences 
of men. 

Such a conspicuous exemplar of the contempo- 
rary drama pf sociologic injunction as Brieux 
frankly says : " It is my nature to preach. . . . 
I have always wanted to preach. My plays all 
have a purpose. That is why I write them. Had 
I lived in the seventeenth century, I would have 
been a preacher. Then the Church wielded an 
■enormous influence. But now, I write plays. The 
theater is what attracts people; there you can 
get them. And I want to bring the problems be- 
fore them. I want them to think about some of 
the problems of life. ... I have tried to show 
how wrong it is to shirk responsibility. All evil 
comes from lack of feeling of responsibility — of 
the individual for the individual, and of the classes 
for each other.'* Indeed, I think the greatest 
error which modem criticism has made proceeds 
from the vicious assumption that the social dram- 
atist presumes to_ans3cerL±he_qijestions which he 
raises. On the contrary, he arouses in the mind 
of the thoughtful spectator a most shocking sense 
of dubiety as to the wisdom of our conventional . 
attitude of social indifl'erence. The general prob- 
lem, concretized by the dramatist in a highly 
specialized case, is brought sharply to the at- 
tention and to the conscience of the audience. 
The dramatist brings to his audience a sense of 



112 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

conviction : we feel that we are somehow involved 
in the affair. The guilt of the particeps criminis 
weighs upon us. It is not for the dramatist, but 
for us, to find the solution of this social problem. 
Thus may be rectified some of the major evils, 
some of the intolerable injustices, of our modem 
civilization. Through the enlargement and deep- 
ening of the social conscience may come the juster 
and more humane social order of the future. 



THE NEW FORMS— NATURALISM AND 
THE FREE THEATERS 



''The individual can attain complete independence only 
when he liberates his soul from all external connections, 
from every objective relation, and, as a free subject, simply 
lives his own states of consciousness." — ^Rudolf Euceen. 



On a bleak evening in October of the year 1887, 
some cabs deposited a group of critics at the nar- 
row passage of the Elysee des Beaux-Arts, in 
Paris. Stumbling down this dark passage, they 
entered the door of No. 37. They were there, 
unwittingly, to assist at the birth of a new art: 
the art of naturalism in the theater. With rail- 
lery unconsciously prophetic, one of the critics, 
Jules Lemaitre, in his next week's feuiUeton^ after 
describing his strange adventures, passes from 
jest to earnest with the query: "We had the air 
of good Magi in mackintoshes seeking out some 
lowly but glorious manger. Can it be that in 
this manger the decrepit and doting Drama is 
destined to be bom again? *' 

The time was ripe in France, indeed in all 
Europe, for the revolt embodied in the Thi&trc 

118 



114 THE CS^NGING DRAMA 

Libre. On the bSlasis bf the scientific investiga- 
tions of Cuvier, Tame had propounded his 
memorable theories of Wentific criticism. " Be- 
neath the shell was an animal and behind the docu- 
ment there was a man " — this classic phrase may 
well stand for the foundation stone of naturalistic 
criticism. Art, history, criticism, like zoology, 
had at last found its anatomy. Race, environ- 
ment, epoch — these were the supreme pivots about 
which revolved the massive mechanism of modem 
scientific criticismt Man came to be regarded as 
the summation, the integration, of all antecedent 
influence, the creature of environment, the instru- 
"1^ ment of social momentum. Man came to be stud- 
ied as an organism; criticism presumed to study 
the " laws of human vegetation." 

In the early days of his literary apprenticeship, 
the young Simile Zola gained inspiration and in- 
struction from his occasional chats with Taine. 
And in the course of a few years, Zola himself 
steps forth into the arena as the champion of 
naturalism in art, the art of both fiction and the 
drama. In his elaborate and monumental series 
of the Rougon-Macquart novels, Zola exhibits the 
members of a family basically affected not only 
by social influences and the pressure of environ- 
ment, but also by physiological conditions inherited 
from their ancestors. It was his purpose to do 
away with the outworn models of his predecessors, 



I 



/ 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 116 

with their persistent idealization of the workings 
classes. ** My book," he said in speaking of the 
unspeakable L^Agsommair, ^^ is the first book which 
has the veritable odor of the people." To those of 
delicate sensibilities, this popular effluvia was, not 
unnaturally, highly distasteful. They held their 
noses; but — continued to read Zola. The scien- 
tific basis for his theories lent them an unques- 
tioned strength and stability. The artist, under 
the naturalistic conception, discards the interest 
of the anecdote and the fable in favor of the in- 
terest which proceeds from a faithful and minute 
description of actuality. The new work was 
viewed as " simply an inquest on nature, beings, 
and things." Animated by this conception, Zola 
propounded his famous definition: ^^A work of 
art is a phase of creation seen through a tempera- 
ment." Realism was content to observe ; natural-l 
ism demanded scientlficjg xperimenta tion. Under^ 
the most vigorous canons of naturalism, the artist 
disclaimed the right either to moralize or to draw 
conclusions. With views colored assuredly by 
temperamental disposition, the naturalist sought 
only to reproduce life as it actually is at bottom, 
in the light of biological and social science. 

The threatened invasion of the theater by the 
exponents of naturalism aroused the impassioned 
opposition of Dumas "fUs, ^^My literary stand- 
point is not the same as Zola's/' he asserted, ^^ on 



116 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

some matters no agreement between us is possible. 
But he is a strong man ; and what I particularly 
like about him is his d^^^ frankness." Three 
forces operated to create the drama of Augier and 
- Dumas fUt. First of all, they were the inheritors 
|- ^of the technical ideas of Eugene Scribe. What- 
ever may be urged against Scribe, on the score 
of poverty of ideas and weakness in psychology, 
certain it is that he was a master of technical 
craftsmanship. Although his plots were artificial 
and trivial, the study of character always subor- 
dinate to technical ingenuity, and the treatment of 
life which his plays embodied unworthy of being 
dignified by the name of criticism, he was a master 
in the art of preparation and intrigue, and suc- 
ceeded in a remarkable way, through an artfully 
devised chain of situations, in holding the atten- 
tion of his audience. So ingeniously and dexter- 
ously constructed were his theatrical pieces that 
they survived the harsh test of transplantation to 
other soils. La BataUle de Dames of Scribe and 
Legouv^, light enough to be popular anywhere, 
has already achieved a sort of eminence as a con- 
temporary classic — in that genre. And so the 
entire civilized world was flooded with " well- 
made plays," adaptations from Scribe or perpetu- 
ally renewed illustrations of the self-same model. 
Dexterity in the handling of plot and careful 
preparation of the crucial scenes came to be re- 



a 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS IIT 

garded everywhere as fundamental features of 
the dramatic form. Not Augier and Dumas fUs 
only, but Ibsen and Bjomson both served their 
apprenticeship to Scribe, and acquired a mas- 
tery in the technic of preparation and manipula- 
tion. 

Augier and Dumas fils, under the influence of 
he earlier realistic conceptions, sought to draw 
from life with greater accuracy of detail. The 
incidents were more natural, the conversation 
more colloquial, the scenes more familiar and more 
intimate. And yet, when Zola went the last step 
and propounded his theories of the new experi- 
mentation, Dumas and his followers arose in re- 
volt. In his reply to Zola, in the preface to the 
EtrangirCy Dumas protests that since the theater 
is the art of preparation and of explanation, it 
can never yield to the demands of naturalism 
which neither prepares nor explains. Moreover, 
dominated by a passionate moral sense and en- 
dowed with the zeal of the social reformer, Dumas 
condemned naturalism on the score of its impas- 
sibility. The naturalistic drama, he averred, is a ^ 
contradiction in terms. It is neither a work of 
art nor a moral demonstration — the two indis- 
pensable criteria of the authentic drama. "An l 
artist," says Dumas most justly, " a true artist, ' 
has a higher and more difficult mission than the | 
mere reproduction of what is : he has to discover 



118 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

ft and reveal to us that which we do not see in things 
I we look at every day — ^that which he alone has 
I the f actdty of perceiving in what is apparently 
' patent to all of us." 

For all the protests of Dumas, technically mis* 
guided or artistically valid, against the new 
-^ theories, naturalism marched on to an irresistible 
invasion of the theater. The birth of the most 
fecund dramatic art of our own day dates from 
that bleak evening in 1887 when Faguet and his 
fellow-critics stumbled through the dark purlieus 
of Montmartre. The name of Andre Antoine is 
inextricably linked with the evolution of contem- 
porary dramatic art. From him, on the side of 
managerial novelty, stems the fertile conception 
of the theater conducted purely in the interests 
of artistic experimentation. By forming an or- 
ganization of patrons who supported his theater 
as a club is supported, and thereby avoiding the 
prc^t-seeking evils of the theater of commerce, 
Antoine paved the way for the experimental or- 
J ganizations of to-day, the thSdtre h coti^ and the 
'1 later development of the short-run and repertory 
theaters. In the matter of scenic arrangement 
and detail, he proceeded upon the theory of Ibsen, 
who had defined the stage as a room of which one 
wall has been removed. In the art of acting, he 
demonstrated, in the face of limitless ridicule, his 
naturalistic theories by the aggressive and power- 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 119 

ful verisimilitude of his dramatic incarnations. 
With the zeal of the artistic revolutionary, he dis- 
pensed absolutely with the ^^ indispensable prepa* 
ration " of Dumas ; and gave at his theater pieces 
which came to be denominated as ^^ slices of life '' 
(" tranches de la vie "). Around him collected 
a group of men of distinguished talent: Pierre 
Wolff, L6on Hennique, George Ancey, CamiUe 
Fabre, and Eugene Brieux. Under his patronage 
were first produced Minage d* Artistes and Blanch- 
ette^ early dramatic works of the remarkable figure 
who has recently been denominated the most im- 
portant dramatist produced by France since the 
days of Moliire. The natural consequence of the 
libertarianism of Antoine was the production at 
his T^atre Libr e^ not only of plays of French 
make,*l)ut also of remaxkable dramas in the newer 
naturalistic manner. The very first list of pro- 
ductions announced by Antoine contained Tol- 
stoy's Power of Darkness (Puissamce des TSni- 
hres); and here in succession were produced such 
pieces of revolutionary tendencies as Ibsen's 
Ghosts {Les Revenants), Hauptmann's Before 
Sunrise (Vor Sonnenaufgang), Strindberg's T^ 
Father and Miss Julia. Hospitable to all the 
strange, new, and disquieting forces in the 
drama of the time, Antoine threw open the gates 
to experimentation. Only a few years after the 
memorable night of 1887^ M. Faguet is found 



1«0 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

boldly proclaiming: "The only theater in Paris 
at this moment is the ThMtre Libre,** 

It was not in France, incredible as it may 
sound, that naturalism as a dramatic form came 
to any sort of just fruition. The Thiatre Libre 
was a great blow struck in the cause of freedom 
for modem experimentation in the theater and 
in the drama. But in this cradle of the new art, 
no great naturalistic dramatist de pur sang was 
bom. The master of M^dan, a sort of presiding 
genius of the Thi&tre Libre, began as the great 
exemplar of naturalism in the art of fiction. Not 
only did he never achieve mastery of the nat- 
uralistic drama: he never conquered the theater 
in any sense. The entire course of his subsequent 
development shows that behind the mask of nat- 
uralism was concealed a colossal romanticist, in- 
spired by vast dreams and chimerical hopes of 
social and humanitarian reform. For all the 
stem forthrightness and acute psychology of his 
Leg Corbeaux and La Parisienne, that remarkable 
talent, Henri Becque, succeeded neither in win- 
ning unconditional success in the French theater 
nor in achieving international eminence as a cos- 
mopolitan figure. Brieux, vastly the most prom- 
ising of all the fledglings of Antoine, soon burst 
the bonds of a confining naturalism; and eventu- 
ally won a seat in the Academy for his genius as a 
dramatic author of the newer social and human- 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 121 

itarian type. The greatest and most consistent 
champion of woman the contemporary drama has 
produced is the author of Maternite^ Les AvariSs, 
and La Femme Sevie. It was not as a natural- 
istic artist, but as a skilful dramatic crafts- 
man along the lines of a normal realism, that 
Brieux won his present place in the contemporary 
movement. And it cannot be doubted that his 
widening vogue outside of France, which in itself 
constitutes a definite forwarding of the principles 
of dramatic realism, is primarily due to the uni- 
versal emergence of social problems €md the in- 
creasing dominance of questions concerning the 
status of woman in the society of to-day. 

The real triumph of naturalism in the theater 
is the contribution of Germany through the per- 
son of Gerhart Haupt mann, In literature, he 
passed under the influence of Ibsen, of Zola, and 
of Tolstoy. That little book of sketches, with 
its startlingly naturalistic treatment, the Papa 
Hamlet of Amo Holz and Johannes Schlaf, con- 
fessedly written under the influence of Zola's 
theories and practice, impressed Hauptmann as 
a model of naturalistic treatment. The powerful 
example of Ghosts^ the only drama of Ibsen's 
which may be termed naturalistic in its treat- 
ment, exerted a tremendous influence likewise upon 
the young Hauptmann. It was a most fortunate 
conjunction — ^the development of the naturalistic 



122 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

talent of Hauptmann strictly contemporaneous 
with the rise of the free theaters in Germany. 
The example of Antoine in Paris awoke the am- 
bition of young Germany to emulate his example, 
to free dramatic art from the oppression of a 
despotic bureaucracy on the one hand, from the 
shackles of a rigid and adamantine convention- 
ality on the other. 

The opening of the Free Theater (Freie 
Bilhne) in Berlin in the autumn of 1889 (Septem- 
ber .27) marks the birth of the new dramatic 
movement in Germany. The gates to the modem 
German drama were thrown open by the produc- 
tion of GhostSy as Dr. Otto Brahm expressed it ; 
and during the next few years this same play 
sounded the tocsin of the new time in England 
and America. It was the opening production of 
the Independent Theater of London in 1891 ; and 
upon its first production in New York in 1894?, 
the performance was described by the realistic 
novelist, William Dean Howells, as " the very 
greatest theatrical event he had ever known." 
The production of Hauptmann's maiden dramatic 
work, Before Sunrise^ in 1889, was a significant 
event in the history of the modern German drama. 
During the same season were produced Bjomson's 
A Gauntlety Tolstoy's Power of Darkness, Die 
Familie SeUcTce of Holz and Schlaf, a sprawling 
chronicle in the extravagantly naturalistic manner, 



i 



Qj 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 123 

and Hauptmann's second play, The Coming of 
Peace (Dag Friedensfest). The storm of discus- 
sion aroused by Hauptmann's two plays, and the 
contradictory opinions thereby evoked, gave pow- 
erful impetus to the free theater movement. The 
second season, with its five performances, was note- 
worthy for the production of a new drama by 
Hauptmann, Lonely Lives (Einsame Menschen^ 
1881 ) ; and with a single performance of Strind- 
berg's Miss Julia, in its third season, the Freie 
Biihne ceased to exist. For it had fulfilled its 
function, accomplished the needed pioneering 
work, and paved the way for Gerhart Hauptmann 
and his successors. 

The new form of drama created by Gerhart 
Hauptmann we shall denominate the drama of 
pure naturalism ^ In such dramas, the subjects 
are iixvariably chosen from contemporary life; 
and, because of the sharp contrasts and new ma- 
terials afforded, from those phases of life which 
had hitherto been rigorously excluded from the 
domain of the drama — the life of the humble and 
the lowly. The subjects treated were repulsive 
to many theater-goers, accustomed to the uni- 
versal idealization of life in the conventional the- 
ater. The ugly, the abnormal, the asymmetric 
were types enthusiastically studied by the nat- 
uralists. Their search was not for beauty, for 
the ideal, or for the moral ; their search was only 



< 



1«4 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

for the truth in the light of modem social rela- 
tivity. A graphic and faithful projection of a 
section of human actuality — that, in fine, was the 
ideal of the naturalist. 

As a new form, the drama of pure naturalism 
affords in its origin a striking example of that 
" evolution by explosion '* in the mutation theory 
of the scientist, De Vries. The naturalistic 
drama arose in Germany, not as the result and 
culmination of a series of insensible gradations 
in the form of the German drama. In the muta- 
tion theory of De Vries, a species sometimes 
arises which exhibits no transitional stages of 
preparation; the addition of a new unit to the 
group of units which determine the character of 
a species results in the creation of a new form 
sharply differentiated as an individual species 
from the one out of which it has been produced. 
This phenomenon is exemplified in the origin of 
the literary species denominated the drama of 
pure naturalism. Qatofthe sci entific doct rine 
Qf^ev olution, and not out of the (iirama o^ the 
past, Hauptmann selected that unit idea which, 
projected into the group of units which deter- 
mines the character of the conventional drama, 
eventuated in the creation of the newer dramatic 
form, the drama of pure naturalism. This new 
unit was none other than the cardinal tenet of the 
^ doctrine of evolution: jpcialjieterminism. In the 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 126 

drama of the Greeks, tragedy was the result of 
an inscrutable Fate, the immutable will of the 
Gods. In the drama of Marlowe and Shakespeare, 
tragedy was the outcome of individual character. 
The individual was regarded as the molder of 
his own destiny ; he was thus held to strict moral 
account for his actions. This tragedy, which has 
been termed the drama of psychological individ- 
ualization, was essentially moral in its tone; 
destiny became identified with human character 
and the human will. 

An eager student of the newer scientific theories 
in their relation to the laws of human behavior and 
tlie phenomena of human society, Hauptmann soon 
became a convert to the doctrine of sqsdal^^deter> ^ *-^ t^iV; 
TnipJRTn- Freed om of wil l was seen to be a delusion q 

in the face "oTlhe overpowering influ^ices ojT^ 
environment and inherited characteristics./ The X 
simple conception of individual responsibility gave 
place to the vaster and more complicated concep- 
tion of man as a creature subject to the fixed 
laws of social and biological heredity. In this ^ 
conception, man is derivative, not creative.. The 
individual hero vanishes forever from the scene; 
and the characters of the drama are the resultants 
of social and biological influences for which they 
are not individually responsible. Unity of action, 
the indispensable criterion of the earlier drama, 
gives place to the faithful reproduction of scenes 



V. 



126 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

which follow each other in strict chronologica l, 
rather than psychological, succession. Tragic 
guilt ceases to obtain: we are devoured less with 
/ a sense of individual tragedy than with a senti- 
ment of social pit y. The egoistic appeal of the 
individual character tragedy is supplanted by the 
altruistic appeal of a social catastrophe arising 
from the maladjustments, imperfections, and in- 
justices of social organization. .' 

It cannot be denied that the naturalists have 
produced powerful and gripping dramas, more 
appalling through the squalor of the scenes and 
happenings than elevating through the beauty of 
the story. Assuredly, the remorselessness of the 
treatment, combined with the repulsiveness of the 
characters involved, have given rise to the not 
unnatural, but unwarranted, critical common- 
place that the naturalist wishes to shock and hor- 
- rify his audience with his drab pictures of pov- 
erty, misery, criminality, and degeneracy. From 
the philosophic standpoint, the naturalist is in- 
tent upon exhibiting, in the most effective way, the 
■ influences of environment and heredity upon 
' human character and action. In consequence, he 
chooses his subjects and scenes from those classes 
of society which exhibit the operation of these 
forces in the most striking way. Indeed, the citi- 
zens of the fourth estate, the petty artisans, the 
humbler peasantry, the submerged tenth in the 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 127 

cosmopolitan centers, crooks, tramps, thugs, 
criminals — ^in these lower forms of humanity, char- 
acter is least volitional and creative. In such 
social strata are most glaringly patent the tragic 
consequences of hereditary ills and proclivities, 
the direful influences of surroundings calculated 
to retard and arrest all intellectual and spiritual 
development. When the naturalist chooses his 
subjects from the ordinary ranks of human life, 
the self-imposed restriction of moral detachment, 
of absolute impassib ility, forces him to select for 
his subjects, in illustration of the working of 
scientific forces, individuals descending in the 
character scale — abnormal, aberrant, distorted 
types, diseased stocks, moral perverts, degen- 
erates, human symptoms of a decadent civiliza- 
tion. Of the first class, one might mention that 
succession of kinematographic pictures of a social 
helPs kitchen, Gorky's The Lower Depths; that 
terribly repulsive picture of sexual degeneracy, 
Zola's Nana; that grim denotement of the moral 
degradation of the Russian peasantry, Tolstoy's 
The Powers of Darkness; the dramatic panorama 
of a peasant's strike, presided over by the grim 
figures of Hunger and Want, Hauptmann's Die 
Weber; that fevered dream of universal anarchy, 
Andreyev's Sawa, Of the second class, conspicu- 
ous examples are such presentments of the tragic 
consequences upon the yoimger generation of evil 



n 




128 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

living of the older, as Ibsen's Ghosts, Hauptmann's 
Vor Sormenaufgang, Strindberg's Miss Jtdia; such 
illustrations of the pathetic results of human dis- 
parities and imperfections in environmental influ- 
ence as Hauptmann's EtTisame Menschen, Shaw's 
Mrs. Warren's Profession, Brieux's Blanchetfe; 
such exemplifications of abnormalities iH char- 
acter and temperament, due to heredity mad en- 
vironmental influences, as Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, 
Strindberg's The Creditors, Brieux's Materniti, 
D'Annunzio's La Citta Morte. 
^ The day of the drama of pure naturalism, I 
dare say, is past. The temper of the age, with 
^^ its altruistic sentiments and social sense, alone 
would suffice to reject the drama which posits im- 
passibility as one of its cardinal principles. In- 
deed, the further development of naturalism was 
effectively checked when the very founders of 
naturalism deserted the temple they had reared. 
Hauptmann, with a versatility unmatched by any 
contemporary dramatist, soon revealed himself in 
many guises wholly unfamiliar, and indeed an- 
tipodal, to naturalism. While Ibsen's dramas are 
founded upon modem theories of science and psy- 
chology, his characters are volitional, and they 
concern themselves fundamentally with problems 
of psychology and morality. Indeed, almost all 
of his later dramas, symbolic in treatment and en- 
veloped in certain mystical ideas, are far re- 



y 



. I. 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 129 

moved from naturalism. Strindberg left the field 
of pure naturalism to soar into the blue of mys- 
ticism, of allegory, of romance. 

First, as indicated, the changed temper of 
the age and the defection of the naturalists > ' 
themselves checked the advance of the principles 
of naturalism. Second, the drama in the 
main deals with conflict, struggle, and the 
clashes arising from the development of char- 
acter and growth of soul. The naturalistic 
drama, constituted of characters purely static, _ \ 
shown in scenes chronologically successive, failed > 



to furnish the indispensable appeal of human in- 
terest. The (grce of the naturalistic influence, it 
cannot be too strongly asserted, however, has 
be en the greatest influence in the developm ent and 
creation of the contemporary drama of the cos- 
mopolitan _type. The effects of naturalism, under 
the less forbidding term of realism, its legitimate 
offspring, are the most conspicuous effects which 
the drama of to-day, wherever it may be found, 
has to exhibit. In all the exterior details of stage- 
setting, in a certain poverty of mise'en-scine, in 
the lack of extraneous and extrinsic embellish- 
ment, the contemporary drama exhibits overwhelm- 
ing naturalistic influence. The selection of sub- 
jects from modem life, the employment of the 
vernacular in conversation and the presentment, 
with the minimum of convention, of a highly nat^ 



y 



180 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

. ural picture of real life — these requirements, now 
N • accepted by the dramatic craftsman as indispensa- 
ble requirements of his art, are the immediate 
I x:onseguences of the principle and practice of nat- 
-^uralism. Even more profound has been the influ- 
ence of naturalism upon the treatment of human 
character; for the contemporary dramatist must 
be better and more accurately informed, than was 
the dramatist ever before in history, upon the 
modern scientific theories of hypnotism, auto-sug- 
gestion, psychotheraphy, psychopathy, heredity, 
environment, all the newer principles of biology 
and psychology. 
^ Naturalism furnished the model of the drama 
purely static. For there is virtually no room for 
the dynamic display of volitional activity in a 
drama without psychological development and 
lacking in the hero and heroine of the ancient 
dramatic formula. This naturalistic type of 
drama lent itself not to long productions in five 
acts in the larger theaters, but to plays of a few 
scenes, sometimes of only a single act — pictures, 
tableaux, atmospheric in tone with a minimum of 
action — shown in a theater of very limited size. 
This is the " intimate theater " of to-day. The 
Theatre Libre first gave Zola's ThSrise Raquin^ 
— a dramatized version of a novel, it is true, but 
in its form distinctly creative; and soon after- 
ward produced Strindberg's Miss Julia. At the 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 131 

ThSdtre de UCEuvre, of Lugn6 Poe, were pro- 
duced Strindberg's The Father and Creditors as 
conspicuous specimens in the new manner adapted 
to the stage of the intimate theater ; and the de- 
velopment proceeded rapidly in Berlin, first fos- 
tered by the Freie Biihne and developed gradu- 
ally by the genius of Reinhardt. The earlier 
ideas, which prevailed about the drama and the 
theater as its temple, were blown away by the 
fierce blasts of the new idea. Under the older 
conception, a drama must be five acts long, with 
no changes within the acts; each act must be 
scenic in character; the end of the act must be 
a " curtain " — i.e. a situ ation de signed to^eyok^ 
the applause of the audience. The hero and 
heroine were roles especially designed for " stars." 
The conventions of dramaturgy in a large theater 
were destructive of vocal illusion: the straining 
of the voice, in order to be heard to the farthest 
confines of the theater, the oratorical and formal 
cast imparted to speeches given in a voice raised 
to a much higher pitch than that employed in 
real life, the absurdity of being forced to whisper 
low enough to be heard two hundred and fifty 
feet away, etc. The intimate theater must be 
small enough to enable the player to speak with 
entire naturalness but without straining the voice. 
This close contact with the audience, achieving 
the intimacy of naturalness and reality, resulted 



— * J 



18* THE CHANGING DRAMA 

in the abolition of star-parts, "curtains," so- 
liloqujs, mere effects. When Reinhardt opened 
his Kamm€rspielhaus, the very title of the little 
theater expressed its function: to carry over into 
drama the idea of " chamber music." The drama 
adapted to the intimate theater can be neither 
sprawling, " theatrical," nor long-winded. To 
employ the words of Strindberg, it must be brief, 
significant, creative. " No definite form should 
control the dramatist, since the motive alone de- 
termines the form. Freedom in treatment is all — 
conditioned only by unity and the sense of style 
in conception." 

The static drama, of the new type, is thus seen 
to be the product of naturalism and a functional 
dramatic adaption to the intimate theater. 
Two new species of this form have come into 
being within the last few decades, the one in 
comedy, the other in tragedy. Each is a drama 
of quiescent action, of depressed volition. Each 
attains its purpose : the one through purely intel- 
lectual, the other through purely atmospheric 
means. The one may roughly be described as a 
dramatized debate, the other as a dramatized 
short-story. The first form I shall denominate 
the drama of discussion; the second form, the 
rama of suggestion. 

Tne drama of discussion, under a critical 



analysis, would appear to have its origin, if not 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 188 

its precise exemplification, in the d faniAtic the- 
ories of Ibs en* In his drama of recessive action, 
which finds its classic model in the (Edipus Rex, 
of Sophocles, Ibsen foreshortened and compressed 
the action into a climax or catastrophe. Hebbel 
before him had unearthed the germ of the drama 
of explication in the discovery that action and 
exposition must be identified. Since only the con- 
cluding phases, the climax or catastrophe of a 
cumulative series of events, were to be presented, 
the dramatic craftsman was compelled to dram- 
atize the exposition. That is to say, the char- 
acters were obliged to reveal in discussion, in 
exchange of confidences, in revealing hints and ac- 
cusatory implications, the incidents and events 
which preceded and gave rise to the situations 
exhibited within the confines of the drama itself. 
A DolTs House, for example, is an excellent illus- 
tration af the French model of a well-made play 
— down to a certain point. When Nora suddenly 
says to Torvald : " In all these eight years — 
longer than that — from the very beginning of our 
acquaintance, we have never exchanged a word 
on any serious subject," and sits down to discuss 
in extenso the situation with him, we realize that 
Ibsen has broken sharply with the old form and 
found the germ of the new. It was this revolu- 
tionary change — this elaborate, revelatory discus- 
sion with its dramatic climax — ^which so startled 



134 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

Francisque Sarcey that he threw up his hands, 
declaring that he understood nothing of the au- 
thor's purpose and intent. An Enemy of the 
People is a more concise example of the drama 
of explication; Dr. Stockmann's most conclusive 
action is a speech, which consumes almost an entire 
act. More conspicuous still is Little Eyolf, which, 
save for the death of little Eyolf, the event giving 
the impulse to the play, is almost entirely devoted 
to discussion — a mordantly incisive revelation, 
through exchange of ideas, of two people's views 
of life and of the gradual re-alignment and 
common agreement as to the future. This play 
may be described as the dramatization of certain 
intellectual and emotional states. The social 
dramas of Ibsen are all dramas of awakening. 
,^ And this awakening results less from overt actions 
of the characters than from the train of ideas set 
up in the minds of the characters by some par- 
ticular complication or conjunction. 

The contemporary drama has been essentially 
explicative in character, concerning itself less with 
'v , / the actions themselves than with the psychological 

motives which give rise to such actions or the de- 
velopment of character in consequence of such 

'^. / actions. Action has lost its predominant vitality 
' as an end in itself: it serves rather as a point of 

^ approach or a point of departure. Such plays 
as The Cherry Orchard of Tchekhov, The Cred- 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 136 
itors of Strindberg, A Gatmtlet of Bjomson, 



/ 



Moody's The Great Divide, Schnitzler's Das Ver- 
mdchtriiss, Bergstrom's Lynggard and Company 
may be instanced as adequate forms of the drama 
of explication. 

The extension, or rather the amplification, of 
the germ idea of Ibsen has been the technical con- 
tribution of Shaw and Brieux. According to 
Shaw's narrow but precise conception of the 
dramas of Ibsen, they exhibit the conflict of the 
older with the newer ideals. It is significant that 
even in his most explicative dramas, Ibsen never 
permits his characters to discuss ideas of life save 
as a means of exhibiting an indispensable phase 
of character or forwarding the dramatic move- 
ment of the piece. On the other hand, Shaw has 
conceived and executed a number of dramas not 
only singularly devoid of action, but also singu- 
larly replete with discussion. In witnessing Don 
Juan in Hell, from Man and Superman, given as 
an unit at the Royal Court Theater in London, I 
felt that the type had been pushed to the verge 
of its possibilities. One could not fail to recognize 
that the beautiful costumes designed by Charles 
Ricketts, the " conducting " of Shaw, the amazing 
glibness of Robert Loraine and Norman McKin- 
nel were all-powerful, almost indispensable, aux- 
iliaries. With Shaw, the discussion obscures the 
action and often becomes merely an end, not 



186 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

a means. With Ibsen, the discussion, the conver- 
^sational e:icplIcation, is itself drama; with Shaw, 
the discussions are often merely displays of in- 
tellectual virtuosity, decorative dialectics. Shaw 
prides himself as much on being a moralist and 
a debater as on being a dramatist. And in the 
Ught of such a view, he has the hardihood to 
proclaim that ^^ an interesting play cannot in 
the nature of things mean anything but a play 
in which problems of conduct and character of 
personal importance to the audience are raised 
and suggestively discussed." Shaw has written 
notable plays, authentic dramas according to 
Aristotelian standards, in which discussion dis- 
plays a large part — Mrs. Warren's Profession^ 
Candida, Man and Superman, Fanny^s First Play, i 
He has written others which do not accord with i 
Aristotelian standards — ^having no beginning, mid- 
dle, or end, in the technical sense; revealing no 
authentic conflict of wills ; almost totally lacking 
in action. Getting Married and Misalliance are 
perhaps the best examples. These the critics 
gleefully pronounce to be " not plays " — and con- 
demn as the witty vagaries of a skilled dialec- 
tician. In the Induction to Fanny^s First Play, 
Shaw elucidates this critical attitude through the 
mouth of " Trotter," in whom he has lampooned 
Mr. Walkley, of the Times: 



I 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 187 

**! am aware that one author, who is, I blush to say, 
a personal friend of mine, resorts freely to the dastardly 
subterfuge of calling them conversations, discussions, and 
so forth, with the express object of evading criticism. 
But I'm not to be disarmed by such tricks. I say they are 
not plays. Dialogues, if you will. Exhibitions of char- 
acter, perhaps: especially the character of the author. Fic- 
tions, possibly, though a little decent reticenee as to intro- 
ducing actual persons, and thus violating the sanctity of 
private life, might not be amiss. But plays, no. I say 
NO." 

Criticism, as already indicated, must radically 
reverse its definitions of drama and the dramatic 
to make room for the new drama of discussion. 
]^emarkable examples of this form constitute per- 
haps the most notable work which has been idone 
by the younger British dramatists. Galworthy's 
most successful drama, Strife, is a drama of dis- ^ O 
cussion. T^ftykfiy^s The Voys ey Inheritance and 
The Madras House, with quite prosaic settings 
and a minimum of action, are essentially disqui- 
sitions, discussions in the fi)rm-jof a stage play. 
One of the most remarkable plays recently written 
is Schnitzler's Professor Bernardhi, a play con- 
sisting of a discussion, by a large number of char- 
acters, of a single episode, innocent enough in 
itself yet almost endless in its religious and social 
ramifications. The most effective work of the 
strikingly talented St. John Hankin, though he 
aped the conversational brilliancy of Wilde, fol- 
lows the lines of the drama of discussion. Wilde 



/ 
/ 



188 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

himself, a past master in the art of writing witty 
dialogue, did not produce the true drama of dis- 
cussion — being singularly inept as a social phi- 
losopher and incapable, as dramaturgist, of doing 
more than carrying on the tradition of Congreve 
and Sheridan. 
_^ The second variant of the type of static drama 
is the form created by Maeterlinck in his earlier 
no-plot dramas. This form, in an essay published 
a good many years ago, I have chosen to entitle 
thf drama of suggestion. There are two char- 
I acteristic features of Maeterlinck's work: the 
I dominance of fatality and the stylicized manner. 
Maeterlinck harks back to the ancient idea of 
fatality, so familiar to the Greeks ; and conceives 
of a God, after the fashion of Jupiter perhaps, 
essentially cruel and malign in disposition. With 
a sense for character but slightly developed, he 
has drawn a group of characters which are de- 
ficient in individuality, volition, or even morality. 
They are pitiable, primitive creatures, children 
of the youth of the world — stumbling blindly into 
the snares and gins of fate, fleeing dementedly 
from the wrath to come. The primitive naivete, 
the juvenility of the characters, is accentuated 
by the employment of a certain peculiar style, 
which creates and emanates the desired atmos- 
phere. The dialogue is broken, halting, stammer- 
ing, repetitive, recitative — suggestive at once of 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 189 

the volitional fatuity, the mental vacuity of the 
characters. The real secret of the distinction of 
such dialogue is its suggestiveness. We are con- 
scious that conversation is but a superficial mani- 
festation, which veils depths of consciousness — 
language sufficing to conceal both thought and 
feeling. Furthermore, Maeterlinck accomplishes 
the difficult feat — a feat which Thomas Hardy 
achieves so masterfully in his Wessex fiction — of 
inducing the consciousness that there is a secret 
connection, intercommunication — must I say rap^ 
port — between Nature and humanity. As in the 
ancient Hebrew days, the later Roman time, so 
with Maeterlinck men look to Heaven for a sign — 
and when it manifests itself, they heed it with 
superstitious reverence. 

These earlier dramas of Maeterlinck, which 
were overloaded with symbolic paraphernalia and 
often too heavily freighted with mysticism, exactly 
express a certain definite aspect of contemporary 
art. This form of drama again illustrates in 
literary evolution the operation of the mutation 
theories of De Vries. A new species of drama 
comes into being, deriving many elements from 
the past but not exhibiting a gradual evolution 
from preceding forms through a series of suc- 
cessive gradations. Into the group_of units con- 
stituting the species known as the Greek drama 
of fatality, Maeterlinck projected a new unit idea 



140 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

from a new art — the art of the short-story. This 
unit idea was the contribution of Edgar Allan 
Poe — the idea of suggestion, the indirect creation 
of illusion. Tales of the Grotesque and th^ 
Arabesque — in the very title lies a clue to Poe's 
artistic formula. In poem as well as in short- 
story, in The Raven as well as in The Fall of the 
House of Usher, Poe successfully evokes a shiver 
— ^through his exotic, stylicized form and his sug- 
gestion of the immanence of mysterious, malign 
forces within and without us, lurking there to 
work upon us their devious will. Spielhagen has 
maintained that Poe was dominated by a single 
theory of criticism ; and that he attributed to the 
drama, the epic, and the short-story the peculiar 
characteristics of lyric poetry. Yet Poe was but 
anticipating the theory of the modem one-act 
play — the form which Strindberg believed to be 
the dramatic form of the future — ^when he said, in 
speaking of the short-story or prose tale : " if 
wise, he (the artist) has not fashioned his thoughts 
to accommodate his incidents; but having con- 
ceived with deliberate care a certain unique or 
single effect to be wrought out, he then invents 
such incidents — he then combines such events — as 
may best aid him in establishing this preconceived 
effect. If his very initial sentence tend not to the 
outbringing of this effect, then he has failed in 
his first step. In the whole composition there 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 141 

should be no word written, of which the tendency, 
direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established 
design." 

As I pointed out some years ago, Maeterlinck's 
plays of suggestion follow precisely the lines of 
the short-story, being characterized by original 
^and ingenious artistic effects, more than often^ 
fantastic and exotic, and above all convergent, 
intensive, cumulative, as a means of inducing the 
sense of unity, of totality, " The artistic kinship 
of Maeterlinck with Poe and Maupassant," to 
quote my own words, "becomes all the more 
patent when we recognize Maeterlinck's no-plot 
plays not only as occult studies in hallucination, 
but as dramatic versions of the perfected art form 
of the masters of the short-story." Dr. C, 
Alphonso Smith has pointed out that the " prac- 
tical scientific strain " in Poe's work warrants us 
in describing him as " the greatest constructive 
force in American literature." I have often felt 
that America's first great conquest in the domain 
of the drama was destined to be, because of her 
contributions to world literature in the technic 
and form of the short-story, a mastery of the 
technic and form of the one-act play. 

The drama of suggestion, it need scarcely be 
pointed out, is not the work of Maeterlinck alone. 
The peculiar constitution of his philosophy and 
temperam^it tends to fix association of the form 




148 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

with his name. The " dialogue of secondarjjnten- 

tioD," a s defined by M&^l^Mlnck, is found in 

\ Shakespeare and Ibsen. Hamlet and The Master- 

^ BtUlder are assuredly dramas of suggestion; so 

also are Hauptmann's Harmele, Strindberg's 

There are ^rimjfa ^fp^. rrimift nr\i\ ^|T^^/?r^-Jl4nm- 



son's Beyond Human Power, Wilde's SalontS, 
Kennedy's The Servant in the House, As far as 
quiescence of action in the drama is concerned, 
that is a part of the heritage of modem enlight- 
enment. " For, in truth," says Maeterlinck, " the 
further we penetrate into the consciousness of 
man, the less struggle do we discover. ... A con- 
sciousness that is truly enlightened will possess 
passions and desires infinitely less exacting, in- 
finitely more peaceful and patient, more salutary, 
abstract and general, than are those that reside 
in the ordinary consciousness." 

In an age of universal experimentation, the 
golden age of science and invention, we may look 
confidently forward in expectation of the early 
emergence of many ne^ forms of the drama. We 
are beginning to be confronted with a profusion 
of novel experiments — ^the gigantesque photo- 
drama, Cabiria, of D'Annunzio ; the neo-classicist 
poster pantomime of Reinhardt, Sunrnr&n; vast 
pageants, such as those I have witnessed at Lon- 
don and Oxford, or the more recent Masque of 
St. Louis in this country; productions of the 



NATURALISM AND FREE THEATERS 143 

classics and the Elizabethans in the new impres- 
sionist manner; the renascence of the open-air 
theater; toy theaters; plays for marionettes, 
etc. Dramatic activity, stimulated here and there, 
often produces novelties in the treatment of local 
situation ; and from time to time " movements '^ 
are heralded with many flourishes. The strange- 
ness of Heijermans' The Good Hope, an impres- 
sionistic study of the sea, almost deceives us into 
thinking* that he has achieved a new form; cer- 
tainly there is novelty in the tendency, so notice- 
able in Maeterlinck, for example, for making 
Nature the protagonist in drama. So faithful to 
artistic truth is the work of John Millington 
Synge that we feel as if, upon the soil of Ire- 
land, the day of dramatic art has. dawned with 
a fresh, rich splendor. His drama, novel in its 
elemental reversion to the type of dramatic art 
at the beginning of history, bears out, in great 
measure, the promise to afford that nourishment 
upon which live the imaginations of men. We 
sense profound prophecy in his memorable words : 
" On the stage one must have reality, and one 
must have joy; and that is why the intellectual 
modem drama has failed, and people have grown 
sick of the false joy of the musical comedy, that 
has been given them in place of the rich joy found 
only in what is superb and wild in reality." 

Dramatic forms, imparting a semblance of nov- 



144 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

elty by reason of purely allegorical or epical quali- 
ties, testify to the modem tendency toward 
experimentation. Strindberg's colossal trilogy. 
To Damascus^ is an amorphous dramatic auto- 
biography; yet it sounds the universal note. In 
his remarkable dramatic allegory, The Life of 
Ma/n^ Andreyev stands at the opposite pole from 
the Goethe ot Faiist, the Ibsen of Peer Gynt; he 
has here achieved the quintessence of artistic ab- 
straction. The EverywoTna/not Browne, with its 
cheap and tawdry effects, nevertheless so caught 
a certain tone of universality, the sense which 
makes the whole world kin, as to touch the heart 
of millions.. We await from Maeterlinck the su- 
preme allegorical drama of our time. Symbolic 
romance, extensive, vast, bids fair to express best 
the artistic sense of the coming century. 



L 



VI 



THE BATTLE WITH ILLUSIONS,— THE 
ANCIENT BONDAGE AND THE NEW 
FREEDOM 

"We wish to know the reason why we have made up 
our mind, and we find that we have decided without any 
reason, and perhaps even against every reason. But, in 
certain cases, that is the best of reasons. For the action 
which has been performed does not then express some 
superficial idea, almost external to ourselves, distinct and 
easy to account for: it agrees with the whole of our 
most intimate feelings, thoughts and aspirations, with 
that particular conception of life which is the equiva- 
lent of all our past experience, in a word, with our per- 
sonal idea of happiness and of honor. Hence it has been 
a mistake to look for examples in the ordinary and even 
indifferent circumstances of life in order to prove that 
man is capable of choosing without a motive. It might 
easily be shown that these insignificant actions are bound 
up with some determining reason. It is at the great and 
solemn crisis, decisive of our reputation with others, and 
yet more with ourselves, that we choose in defiance of what 
is conventionally called a motive, and this absence of any 
tangible reason is the more striking the deeper our free- 
dom goes." — Henbi Bebgson. 

The drama is a living art form. One may 
question, therefore, whether it will ever be possible 
to devise for it categories wholly valid, universally 
comprehensive, since the drama, as a life form, is 
subject to the law of evolution. It is a sig- 
nificant illustration of the evolution which is crea- 

145 



146 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

tive as well as progressive, continually enlarging 
its scope, broadening its domain, through the 
pressure of the human factor, in this instance the 
vital urge. Writing to Heinrich Laube in 1880, 
Ibsen said : " Do you really attach much value 
to categories? I, for my part, believe that the 
dramatic categories are elastic, and that they 
must accommodate themselves to the literary facts 
— not vice versa.^^ And again, four years later, 
in a letter to Theodore Caspari, Ibsen remarked: 
^^ I gave up universal standards long ago, because 
I ceased believing in the justic^ of applying 
them.*' In these observations, Ibsen struck a 
blow for freedom in the domain of dramatic art. 
Dramatic criticism, forever seeking to formulate 
comprehensive categories within which to embrace 
the entire field of dramatic representation, exer- 
cises a repressive influence upon the creative 
genius. One of the most striking facts in the 
modem dramatic movement is the constructive 
demonstration of many contemporary dramatic 
craftsmen that a play may be eminently successful 
in stage representation, judged by both artistic 
and commercial standards, and yet be intrinsically 
" undramatic " when judged by the confining defi- 
nitions and traditional tenets of dramatic criti- 
cism. A continually recurring phenomenon now- 
adays is the play which attains popular success 
on the stage, though condemned by the dramatic 



THE BATTLE WITH H^LUSIONS 147 

critic as not dti theatre, not a drama. The time is 
ripe for the exhibition of creative criticism as ap- 
plied to the new forms and the display of a more 
catholic spirit in judging the original, experi- 
mental art work of to-day. 

One can illustrate sharply the difference be- 
tween ancient and modern practice by a com- 
parison of the ideas of Aristotle with the ideas of 
Hauptmann in regard to the drama. Such a 
comparison will serve to clarify and elucidate, in 
some measure, the most significant terms employed 
in dramatic criticism: character, action, and 
drama. In one of the most famous passages in 
all dramatic criticism, Aristotle says : " Traged y 
i§^^an imitation, not of men, but al g.n action and 
oUife* . . . Dramatic action, therefore, is not 
with a view to the representation of character; 
character comes in" as subsidiary to the action. 
Hence the incidents and the plot are the end of 
a tragedy ; and the end is the chief thing of all. 
Again, without action there cannot be a tragedy ; 
there may be without character. . . . Th e plot , 
then, is the first principle, and, as it were, the 
soul of a tragedy ; ch aracter holds the second- 
place.*' Viewed from any standpoint, whether 
from that of Aristotle alone or from that of the 
dramatic critic of to-day, the dictum is so gross 
and exaggerated a distortion of the truth as to be 
a virtual falsity. The object of the drama, in 



148 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

/Aristotle's view, is to exhibit character in action ; 
and the two constituent elements of the drama are, 
therefore, character and action. Is it possible, 
then, for the dramatist to utilize either to the 
exclusion of the other? In other words, Aristotle 
is seeking the indispensable requirement, the abso- 
lute differentia or distinguishing characteristic, 
of the literary species known as the drama. Of 
the two, he chooses " plot " as the " first princi- 
ple " of the drama ; and he clearly implies the 
definition that action means ^^ the incidents and 
the plot." Since Aristotle's day, action has come 
to mean something vastly deeper and more com- 
prehensive than merely " the incidents and the 
plot." It appears to be a perfectly true, but per- 
fectly trivial, dictum that a fable is indispensable 
to the drama. It is a deliberate perversion of the 
facts to maintain that this fable is synonymous 
with action. By the same token, a fable is equally 
indispensable for the novel and the short-story. 
Yet, in the light of modern dramaturgic practice, 
even the fable is not an indispensable ingredient 
of the drama. The drama may exist without a 
plot; and the contemporary naturalist has again 
and again demonstrated this dictum by taking 
down the fourth wall of a room and exhibiting a 
static picture of human life. Such a play is not 
a play in the sense understood by Aristotle; it 
is not essentially narrative, but essentially pic- 



THE BATTLE WITH HXUSIONS 149 

torial and atmospheric, in its nature. The drama 
need not embody a story of human experience ; it 
need only be a picture of human existence, real or 
imagined. In the choice of the dramatist, sub- 
limated by his art, this picture may be so typical, 
so representative, as in itself to constitute a criti- 
cism of life, a judgment of society, or an ideal 
striving of the human soul. . 

It has been pointed out that Aristotle is guilty ^^ jj^JJxr-^^ 
of real confusion in thought in identifying the ^^^^>ef^ifti ' 
story with " the incidents and the plot." If Aris-^^. nP^ 
totle really meant, as be says, that " without 'i'^ 
action there cannot be a tragedy," again is he 
refuted by the practice of contemporary dramatic 
art. Here we are confronted with the fundamental 
principle, indeed the very definition, of the drama ; 
and of necessity we must strive anew to arrive at 
some adequate comprehension of the term action. 
Through the intermediary of Spitta in his Die 
Ratten^ Hauptmann denies the importance of ac- 
tion in the drama and asserts it to be ^^ a worthless 
accident, a sop for the groundlings ! " Certainly, 
action in the sense of physical deeds is no longer 
the obligatory attribute of the drama. Speaking 
in his own person, Hauptmann has said: *(^ction 
upon the stage will, I think, give way to the 
analysis of character and to the exhaustive con- 
sideration of the motives which prompt men to 
action. Passion does not move at such headlong 



160 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

speed as in Shakespeare's day, so that we present 
not the actions themselves, but the psychological 
states which cause them." Up to the time of our 
modem era, the inevitable conclusion, the artistic 
finale of tragedy, was death. To-day, the violent 
is the exceptional moment of life; and a deeper 
tragedy than dying may be the tragedy of living. 
Great dramas surely will be written, notable 
dramas have already been written, in which 
passive acceptance and not active resistance is the 
distinguishing characteristic. Action, says Gil- 
bert in Wilde's Intentions^ is limited and relative. 
" But we who are bom at the close of this wonder- 
ful age are at once too cultivated and too critical, 
too intellectually subtle and too curious of ex- 
quisite pleasures, to accept any speculations about 
life in exchange for life itself." Wilde here but 
expresses the conventional idea that the life of 
action is infinitely preferable to the life of con- 
templation. Certain modern critics have even gone 
so far as to say that Aristotle, in positing action 
as the indispensable criterion of the drama, was 
only anticipating Ferdinand Brunetiire in defin- 
ing the drama as the struggle of the human will 
against obstacles. 

The essential feature of the dramatic species, 
says Bruneti^re, is the exhibition of the opposi- 
tion between the world without and the world 
within, the objective and the subjective. Struggle 



THE BATTLE WITH DELUSIONS 161 

is its essential element. With Aristotle, the word 
action has an implicit material connotaticm ; but 
Brunetifere employs the word conflict, which is as 
applicable to the realms of the mental, the moral, 
the ethical, and the spiritual, as to the material 
and the physical. The one and indispensable 
criterion for the drama, according to Brunetifere, 
is that it shall portray a clash of contending de- 
sires, a stark assertion of the human will, against 
strenuous opposition, for the attainment of its 
end. " There can be no tragedy without a strug- 
gle," he says ; " and there can be no genuine emo- 
tion for the spectators unless something other 
and greater than life is at stake." It is not life 
alone, then, the material issue, but a spiritual 
issue — something other and greater than life — 
which is the stake of tragedy: character, honor, 
loyalty, integrity, fidelity, freedom, justice. To 
quote Bruneti^re once more, to make his position 
abundantly clear, " Drama is a representation of 
the will of man in conflict with the mysterious 
powers or natural forces which limit or belittle 
us ; it is one of us thrown living upon the stage, 
there to struggle against fatality, against social 
law, against one of his fellow-mortals, against 
himself, if need be, against the ambitions, the in- 
terests, the prejudices, the folly, the malevolence 
of those who surround him." 

Life thrusts before us at every turn a series of 



168 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

decisions that must be made, of alternatives that 
must be chosen. The problems of duty and desire 
eternally clamor for solution — the problems of 
predestination and freedom, of will and Inclina- 
tion, of passion and self-restraint. The two 
fundamentals which Brunetl^re posits as Indis- 
pensable criteria for the dramatic species are will 
and struggle. A very brief consideration will suf- 
fice to demonstrate that these so-called differenti- 
ating characteristics of the dramatic species are 
striking characteristics of other forms of literary 
art. The short-story Is an art form which has 
been developed to a high state of excellence during 
the contemporary period. Intensive, cumulative 
force is a distinguishing characteristic; u nity o f 
impression is a prime requisite. All the lines 
must converge to a predestined end or culmina- 
tion. Some of the most finished specimens of the 
form exhibit the human will in struggle, or a 
clash of contending desires. Even the lower 
forms, such as the detective story, concretize a 
struggle of the intensest sort. The will of a 
Dupin, expressed In the most cultivated forms of 
detective Imagination, of the faculties of analysis 
and deduction, struggles to overcome the obstacles 
presented by a series of mysterious, apparently 
Inexplicable, facts. Sherlock Holmes is less a 
personality than a volitional intelligence, direct- 
ing the searchlight of imagination and deduction 



THE BATTLE WITH H^LUSIONS 163 

in the effort to overcome seemingly insurmounta- 
ble obstacles. To acknowledge that such stories 
are essentially dramatic is begging the question. 
By the logic of Brunetiere's hypothesis, we are 
driven to the manifestly false conclusion that they 
are dramas. We may assume that such stories, 
in competent hands, are subjects for dramatiza- 
tion. But such an hypothesis is clearly irrelevant 
to the question before us. 

The suggestion has recently been advanced that 
c risis, rather than confl ict, is the essence of drama. 
A crisis is a turning point in the progress of a 
series of events, a culmination. Assuredly this 
is a concomitant attribute of the dramas falling 
under Brunetiire's definition. Such dramas, in- 
deed, exhibit or constitute a series of events, of 
physical or psychological import, marked by the 
display of wills in action. Crisis, to be sure, is 
one phase, the culminant phase, of the struggle of 
wills; indeed, such a struggle will generally ex- 
hibit a chain or succession of crises. It must 
also be conceded that this new criterion, though 
shallower in content, is more comprehensive than 
the criterion of Brunetifere. Consider the static 
dramas of Maeterlinck in his earlier period, which 
are indubitably short-stories cast in the dramatic 
form. A play such as Ulntruaej exhibiting no 
struggle of wills, is clearly not a " drama," ac- 
cording to Bruneti^re. Yet under the new cri- 



164 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

terion, it is distinctively a drama: an intensive 
representation of a crisis. In order to create the 
desired illusion, the author makes every word, 
every slightest stir of nature, cumulative in its 
effect. It is a little drama of cumulative dread. 
This new theory has, however, no thoroughly 
solid foundation. For its propounder has left un- 
defined the essential element, crisis ; or rather, he 
committed the amateurish blunder of defining it 
in terms of itself. The quintessential character- 
istic of drama, says Mr. Archer, is crisis ; but he 
further insists that, since all crises are not dra- 
matic, we must admit within our category only 
the dramatic crises ! In other words, the essence 
of drama is the crucial crisis; or to put it the 
other way round, crisis is the essence of the dra- 
matic drama. Which is absurd. 

It may be further urged against the criteria 
of both conflict and crisis th at many great novels 
exhibit the stark assertion of the human will 
struggling against obstacles through a series of 
progressive, interlinking crises. Furthermore, 
one need only turn to the fertile and original 
dramas of our time in order to discover satisfac- 
tory examples of the successful stage play which 
fall outside the categories of both conflict and 
crisis; and a backward glance will disclose not 
a few plays of high rank, the work of men of 
different times and differing nationalities, ex- 



THE BATTLE WITH DELUSIONS 166 

eluded fram these categories. Of plays of the 
modems, falling without the category of conflict, 
may be cited, for example, Schnilzler's T,ebenSige 
Sttmden^ Maeterlinck's Les Avettglest Les Sept 
Princesses^ UlntSrieure^ and Ulntruse^ Gorky's 
Nachtasyl^ Hauptmann's Hannele, Strindberg's 
Easter, Elizabeth Baker's Chains; an extended 
list might readily be made from the plays of Ms- 
chylus, Sophocles, Goldoni, Calderon, Goethe, 
Schiller, the Elizabethans, the French classicists, 
the dramatists of the Restoration. Of modem 
plays falling without the c ategory of^risis may 
be mentioned Strindberg's The Dream Plat/, Ib- 
sen's When We Dead Awaken, Maeterlinck's TTie 
Blue Bird, Barker's The Madras House, Galswor- 



"1 

\ 

C 



thy's T!fe^ Pigeon. It must be clear, from the con- 
siderations set forth above, that a new definition 
of drama is demanded. Such a definition must 
accord with the facts of modem dramatic prac- 
tice. It must represent a thoroughly catholic 
point of view. At the same time it must be recog- 
nized, not as final, but only as tentative — subject 
to future modification, in order to conform to the 
practice of future way-breakers in dramatic art. > 

The exhibition of wjjl in conflict with obstacles 
is assuredly a spectacle perennially attractive and 
fascinating to the human species. The games and 
plays of children, the sports of the collegian, the 
professional contests of football, baseball, tennis. 



166 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

cricket, lacrosse, the prize fights of America, the 
bull fights of Spain, the cocking mains of France, 
the student duels of Germany — all amply testify 
to man's absorbing interest in a spectacle full of 
conflict, with the added element of danger. The 
same tendency is prevailingly manifest in the 
drama. The plays of most direct and immediate 
appeal to a popular audience are those which pre- 
sent a naked struggle, with its attendant emo- 
tional excitation. Volitional activities in mortal 
combat are spectacles surcharged with the max- 
imum of emotional excitation. The appeal is to 
the baser emotions of the crowd, or even of the 
mob, rather than to the more disciplined and re- 
strained emotions of the enlightened individual. 
Such hand-to-hand, or rather, will-to-will, con- 
flicts are only moderately frequent in every period 
of the drama's history. A man like Strindberg 
frankly says: " I find the joy of life in its violent 
and cruel struggles " ; and Shaw, who has since 
proved recusant to his avowed principles, out- 
spokenly says : " Unity, however desirable in po- 
litical agitations, is fatal to drama, since every 
drama must be the artistic presentation of a con- 
flict. The end may be reconciliation or destruc- 
tion, or, as in life itself, there may be no end; 
but the conflict is indispensable: no conflict, no 
drama." Of modem plays embodying a conflict 
of wills, one thinks of Ibsen's A DoWi House, 



t'^^.^C 






THE BATTLE WITH H^LUSIONS , 167 

Strindberg's The Father and The Dance of Death, 
Shaw's Man and Superman and Candidoy Gals- 
worthy's ^ Strife, Moody's The Great Divide, 
Jones's Mrs. Dane^s Defense, Wilde's SalomS, 
Bjomson's A Gauntlet, Pinero's The Gay Lord ^ 
Quex, Galdos's Electra, Schnitzler's Professor 
Bemardhi, as typical illustrations. Plays of C^ . 
this type, exhibiting the conflict of will with ' '^y / 
will, constitute only a fraction of the dramas 
successfully presented on a stage in a theater 
before an audience, in any given historical 
period. In the vast majority of plays, beyond 
doubt, there is exhibited an exercise of the 
human will; but this human will is not neces- 
sarily brought into direct conflict with another 
human will. It may operate in opposition to in- 
surmountable obstacles, such as the fatality of the 
ancients, the predestination of character, or the 
dead hand of heredity. Such plays — say Mac-- 
beth, Wallenstein, Ghosts — ^with disastrous ending, 
are classed as tragedies. Again, the will may be 
shown in conflict with current moral laws, the 
rules of society, conventional codes of conduct; 
and in such cases — ^Hugo's Hernani, Hebbel's 
Maria Magdalena, Dumas's FUs Naturel, Brieux's 
Les Avaries, Ibsen's An Enemy of the People- — 
we have the serious drama, in which the end may 
or may not be tragic. If the forces are more 
nearly equalized and the consequences clearly do 






\ 



168 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

not promise disaster, we have comedy, with its 
various shadings — Moliire's Le Bourgeois GentiU 
homme, Ibsen's The League of Youths Wilde's 
L(idy Windermere*^ Fan, Shaw's Arms and the 
Man. There are, also, the two lower forms of 
drama in which the characters exist for the sake 
of the plot, and the incidents are largely adven- 
titious — melodrama, a bastard form of tragedy, 
and farce, a degenerate form of comedy. In these 
lower forms, free play is given to surprise, sensa- 
tion, accident, chance, coincidence; the incidents 
are often improbable, verging upon the impossible ; 
and the immediate appeal is to the more super- 
ficial, vulgar, and easily stimulated emotions. 
The point of departure for a new definition of 

•^rTfanrifl— ^A HptiTntinn ftf hpgT'gncrcrpgfivP- nnf finitl 



is the school of contemporary dramatists, includ- 
ing such names as Ibsen, Bjomson, Hauptmann, 
SJiiadb^rg, Maeterlinck, Brieux, Shaw, Gorky, 
Wedekind, Barker, St. John Hankin, Schnitzler, 
Galsworthy. By their practice, and not through 
mere theorizing, they have compelled a new rating, 
a fresh interpretation of action in the drama. 
Hitherto, action has been universally accepted as 
an indispensable attribute of drama; and by 
critics so remote in times and tendency as Aris- 
totle and Maeterlinck. The latter, virtually dis- 
avowing the principle of his own static dramas, 
has said : " Do what one will, discover what mar- 



THE BATTLE WITH H^LUSIONS 159 

vels one may, the sovereign law of the stage, its 
essential demand, will always be action — ^there are 
no words so profound, so noble and admirable, 
but they will weary us if they leave the situation 
unchanged, if they lead to no action, bring about 
no decisive conflict, or hasten no definite solution." 
The whole trend of contemporary dramatic art 
has been in the direction of minifying material 
action and magnifying emotive, psychological, in- 
tellectual, and spiritual action. Shaw has em- 
ployed a suggestive description of the function 
of the new drama — ^^ illumination of life." The 
physical action s, the material incidents, of actual 
lifp liAVP largel y ceased to be ends m thjSis dves; 
^l^ey have become the me ans to deeper ends, the 
^revelation of character, the exhibition ol" tfie tin- ' 
derlyinfiT motives, passionsl^fnpuTses, '" the 3is-* 
closure of the soul — in a word, the unveiling of 

^,^th^ 'T^nf'r ^'^'^ "^^ T"^" ^Ih^ ^^^^^ ^'^ ^*^*^ lite-— 

anA tJUsf fflstrfvruiry j^ nultp rrremf '^^.^ffimr^ff 

^SfccJPdhftrgi J^apriiJigs^ jynerally fygm a whole^ 
series of more or less de ep-lying motives. ..." 
One of the speakers in Dryden's Essay of Dror 
matic Poesy speculatively observes : " Every al- 
teration or crossing of a design, every new-sprung 
passion, and turn of it, is a part of the action, 
and much the noblest, except we conceive nothing 
to be action till the players come to blows." I 
would remind you once more of Ibsen's dedara- 




1^ 



160 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

tion that the ability to project experiences mefi^ 
tally lived through is the secret of the literature 
of modem times. And it was assuredly of dra- 
matic literature that he was thinking when he 
spoke these words. He confessed that he never 
began the writing of a play until he had his dra- 
matic characters wholly in his power, and knew 
them down to the " last folds of their souls." 
; Aristotle said that the drama must have a begin- 
ning, a middle, and an end. The tendency of the 
modem drama is to have no beginning, and no 
middle, and to begin where the earlier drama left 
off. It is a drama of pure culmination: the un- 



rolling of the scroll of ultimate human character. 
Nor in a certain sense can it be said to have any 
end; for the curtain often falls without finality. 
We are left with a haunting sense of the con- 
tinuity and endlessness of human life. The con- 
temporary drama, in its higher forms, is an 
illustration of extreme artistic foreshortening. 
The modern dramatist strives to penetrate ever 
deeper into the depths of human consciousness; 
and in his progress there is the ceaseless exposure 
of the secret springs of human conduct. The 
age itself is introspective, self -analytical ; we per- 
petually scrutinize ourselves at arm's length. The 
popularization and diffusion of scientific theories, 
the widespread and ever-increasing interest dis- 
played in philosophy, psychology, pathology, 



THE BATTLE WITH ILLUSIONS 161 

criminology, psychiatry, eugenics; the spread of 
humanitarian ideas, breeding a spirit of quiescence 
and peace rather than of resistance and war; in- 
creased specialization and refinement of knowledge, 
imposing the obligation of dispassionate and self- 
less research — these and similar forces co-operate 
masterfully in giving tone to the era. Mere acts 
of violence, deeds of blood, fortuitous conjunctures 
and collisions are now held to be barbaric, ata- 
vistic, characteristic of the child-mind, of the race 
in the primitive stage. The contemporary feels 
interest in the cause, not in the details, of suicide, 
for example. The query is not How? but Why? 
The ideal of modem heroism is self-control rather 
than surrender to the promptings of the instincts 
and the passions. Yet modern life — who would 
venture to deny it? — for all this tone of quietude, 
of repression, furnishes joys more uplifting, 
hopes more ardent, despairs more poignant, trage- 
dies more hopeless, than the past ever cradled in 
any age. 

If it were possible to accept conflict as the dif- 
ferentia of the drama, one might define drama as 
the art of decisions. But it should now be clear 
that decision, the exercise of will for definite ends, 
is not an indispensable criterion for the drama. 
For the drama is th e meeting place of all the arts^ 
In pre-eminent degree, it possesses both plastic 
and pictorial attributes. The easiest, not neces- 



('. t 



162 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

sarily the highest, mode of gratifying the curi- 
osity and stimulating the interest of the instinc- 
tive spectator is to present action on the stage, 
action culminating in deeds. A psychologist of 
the crowd will ingeniously explain this as an evi- 
dence of the prevalence of the mob instinct in the 
theater. The theorizings upon the subject of the 
psychology of crowds have been carried to such 
extremes of exaggeration as to obscure in large 
measure the real purport of the better drama of 
our day. 

The drama is a democratic art, making its ap- 
peal to a motley throng assembled for a limited 
time within a circumscribed area» The wonderful 
effectiveness of the ancient theater as an instru- 
ment of public morality was ascribed by Bacon to 
the influence of the strange " secret of nature " 
that men's minds are more open to passions and 
impressions "congregate than solitary.*' A soli- 
tary spectator witnessing a performance of a great 
play by capable interpreters will receive certain 
mental impressions and undergo certain emotional 
experiences. Reading the text of this same play 
alone in his study, he will be deprived of many 
of the impressions and experiences received in the 
theater — the contributions of the acting, the mise- 
en-scine, and all that goes under the expressive 
term of stage-effect. The drama is an art of 
decoration as well as of representation, of appeal 



THE BATTLE WITH ILLUSIONS 163 

to the eye as well as to the ear, touching the 
heart as well as affecting the brain. Hence in 
the theater the visual form of the pictorial, the 
** argument of the flesh," the appeal of the plastic, 
are influences superadded to those experienced by 
the solitary reader of the text of a play. And 
this no matter how well trained the reader may be 
in visualizing the sets of the stage, no matter how 
acute his powers of " stereoscopic imagination." 

When the solitary spectator merges into the 
motley crowd assembled in a theater, a certain 
phenomenon transpires. There is a tendency to- 
ward a change from heterogeneity in idea to 
homogeneity in sentiment. There is something 
electric about a crowd — the individual senses a 
pull of mass receptivity — toward some sort of 
consensus of opinion and feeling. The drama 
itself involves a tacit conspiracy between actors 
and audience— a certain remission of judgment, 
a certain acceptance of conventions peculiar to 
the theater. The spectators are seduced into 
taking sides; their sjrmpathies are engaged for 
certain characters ; their convictions evoked, their 
emotions appealed to, mayhap their nerves as- 
saulted. Now just as the string of a musical in- 
strument gives forth a certain note in response 
to the vibrations set up by a nearby tuning fork, 
so the individual undergoes certain mental and 
emotional experiences in vibratory response to the 



164 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

mass-consciousness of the throng. He reacts, 
negatively, to the electrification of the crowd ; and, 
as Burton suggestively puts it, his private feeling 
is enforced by the overtones of the others. The 
spectator loses something of intellectual aloofness 
in favor of instinctive feeling. As Schlegel says : 
"The effect produced by seeing a number of 
others share in the same emotions is astonishingly 
powerful." 

The error of careless disciples of Tarde and Le 
Bon consists in confusing the passions of the mob 
with the mental and emotional sentiments of the 
audience in the theater. There are two vicious 
generalizations made by these whole-hearted advo- 
cates of crowd psychology. The one is that the 
individual, negatively electrified by the crowd, re- 
verts to the primitive, savage state, and revels in 
appeals to the lower emotions common to all men 
whether in the civilized or barbaric state. The 
second is that the dramatist, since it is his object, 
in Schlegel's words, to "produce an impression 
on an assembled crowd, to gain their attention, 
and to excite in them interest and participation," 
must be, as the French critic Nisard said, " only 
the intelligent echo of the crowd." 

It is quite true that the dramatist must make 
his appeal to the species. The man thus addressed 
is clearly not the primitive man, but the universal 
man. It is quite true that rough-and-tumble 



THE BATTLE WITH H^LUSIONS 165 

farce, " sympathetic " parts in melodrama, and 
stage villains all cater to the primitive instincts 
in man. But these things are found in the primi- 
tive types of plays ; and the individuals who con- 
stitute the audiences do not revert to the primitive 
state: they are themselves already in a primitive 
state. The great dramatist appeals, not to com- 
monplace emotions, not to the uncivilized mind, 
but to the great elemental emotions and to the 
great sentiments and beliefs which make the whole 
world kin. Especially anachronistic at the present 
moment, in face of the great contemporary dramas 
of our time, is the theory that the modem audience 
experiences only primitive, inherited emotions. If 
the greatest achievements of the dramatists from 
Ibsen down to to-day signify anything, it is that 
the emotions most worth appealing to in the the- 
ater are the higher, and not the commonplace j^ 
emotions. The recognition has dawned that a 
drama intellectual in texture, moral in tone, spirit- 
ual in appeal, humanitarian in intention, is a 
powerful popular educative force. The function 
of such drama is not to pander to commonplace 
feeling, but to serve as a stimulant and excitant 
of the higher emotions. The emotions thus ap- 
pealed to are social, humane. Christian in their . ^ 
nature — the sense of brotherhood, the idea of jus- yK 
tice and equality, the sentiment of social solidsLT-/ 
ity, the passion for socisd service, the desire for 



/ 



166 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

race improvement, the ideal of social betterment, 
the common intention to ameliorate conditions of 
poverty and disease, sympathy for the wronged 
and the afflicted. The commonplace emotions are 
not ignored; but they are in no sense paramount 
in legitimate drama. The great theater for their 
display is in the lower forms of drama, and the 
motographic play. 

The modem dramatist has successfully shat- 
tered the theory that he can be " only the intel- 
ligent echo of the crowd." The dramatists of the 
earlier time were content to follow the laggard 
snail-pace of the crowd. To find the greatest 
common denominator of the crowd and then ad- 
dress that " ideal spectator " — this is democracy 
in art with a vengeance! The dramatists of the 
newer dispensation are leaders, not mere spol^es- 
men, of the ideas and feelings of the motley throng 
assembled in the playhouse. They do not exhibit 
the mere " reversion to type " of the primitive 
individuals in the audience imagined by the disci- 
ples of Le Bon. They have proven themselves to 
be leaders in thought, exemplars of the higher 
emotions destined to become the common heritage 
of the race. 

A chasm yawns between the present and the 
past. The spectator at the drama of the past 
might thus have voiced his appreciation to 
the dramatist: "How grateful I am to you for 



THE BATTLE WITH ILLUSIONS 167 

actually expressing what I have often felt but 
never put in words ! " The spectator at the con- 
temporary drama often feels like saying to the 
dramatist: " How grateful I am to you for bring- 
dng out in me latent, unsuspected funds of thought 
and emotion! You have given me to think what 
1 might, but never actually, have thought before. 
You have inspired in me emotions which I might 
have felt before, but actually never have felt until 
now.'' Ibsen wrote for a great cosmopolitan audi- 
ence — and not, save in a few of the dramas of 
the middle period, for Norway. Fru Ibsen once 
told me with the utmost earnestness that her hus- 
band regarded Germany, both intellectually and 
artistically, as his home land. Even the unlikely 
assumption that he wrote always for the " old 
folks at home in Norway " only serves to demon- 
strate how far the great radical dramatist, Ibsen, 
was ahead of his time. Both for Norway and for 
Europe, Ibsen was never " only the intelligent echo 
of the crowd '' ; he was, in his own words, a franc- 
tireur along the firing line of intellectual advance. 
And Ibsen is the world's greatest dramatist since 
Molifere. 

Indeed, we are coming nowadays to realize that 
the drama is a jgreat form of thinkinfr, as well as 
vehicle of emotion. We are coming to realize that 
to stimulate thought through the medium of the 
emotions is only a very partial, a very limited 



168 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

conception of the function of the drama. At no 
time in the world's history, I dare say, has 
thought, has philosophy in the larger sense, played 
so large a part in the drama. Many modem dram- 
atists, themselves incapable of rising to the 
heights of great and original thinking, have suc- 
ceeded in reflecting, at lower candle power, some 
of the great intellectual lights of the century — ^in 
this way familiarizing the popular mind with 
novel ideas, and so leading the way of civili- 
zation. Modem dramatic art effectively be- 
lies the assertion of Letoumeau that the drama 
" cannot express more than the average* of the pre- 
vailing opinions, of the ideas current in the sur- 
rounding social medium." Intellectual iconoclasts, 
as well as esthetic revolutionaries, dramatists like 
Ibsen, Bjornson, Hauptmann, Brieux, Shaw have 
raised and continue to raise whole strata of society 
to the intellectual and emotional level which they, 
as chosen and advanced individuals, once enjoyed 
in more than comparative isolation. 

The emotions experienced by a solitary spec- 
tator at a play differ in degree, but not in kind, 
from those he would experience in the midst of a 
crowd in the playhouse. The crowd heightens the 
intensity of his emotion, but is incapable of change 
ing its nature. We live in an enlightened age; 
and the audiences for the better dramas of our 
epoch are, in the vast majority, enlightened indi- 



THE BATTLE WITH H^LUSIONS 169 

viduals. The simple fact is that these individuals 
do not relapse atayistically in the theater. The 
playhouse is not the cradle of " Judge Lynch," 
The ideas, the opinions cherished by the individual 
spectator of to-day, are incapable of being warped 
by the applause or the hisses of the unintelligent. 
With the tremendous growth of interest in the 
drama, the publication of plays, the increase in 
the number and influence of dramatic and theatric 
organizations, the extension of educational facili- 
ties of all kinds, the average spectator at the the- 
ater, like the average spectator at the professional 
ball game, has become a critic ^^ on his own." He 
is not stampeded by the noise of the theater 
** fan." He sits tight in his own convictions, and 
retains a clear mind for the formation of his own 
opinion. Entermg the theater to be amused, he is 
willing to be edified. Ready for a hearty laugh 
and two hours of enjoyment, he or she — and the 
percentage of women in modem theater audiences 
throughout the world is very large — has a brain 
open enough, a heart big enough, to respond to 
the larger message of the thought and the con- 
science of our time. 

Hauptmann's Das Friedensfest bears upon its 
title page as motto the following significant pas- 
sage from Lessing: " They find action in no trag- 
edy, but that in which the lover kneels down, etc. 
It has never struck them that every internal con- 



y 



170 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

flict of passions, every sequence of antagonistic 
thoughts, where one annihilates the other, may also 
be an action; perhaps they think and feel too 
mechanically to be conscious of any activity. To 
refute them seriously were serious labor." The 
leading contemporary dramatists, Ibsen, Bjom- 
son, Hauptmann, Schnitzler, Strindberg, Brieux, 
Shaw, Galsworthy, in tragedy, tragi-comedy, comr 
edy and even farce, have imported a new kind of 
action into the drama. In the earlier dramas, there 
was sometimes an " argument " which, in anticipa- 
tion, set forth in condensed form the plot of the 
play. In such dramas, the dialogue, the spoken 
words, the gestures, served but as commentaries 
upon the actions of the characters. In the higher 
dramas of to-day, the play is itself the argument. 
The exposition is no longer the means of exhibit- 
ing the action : it is the action itself. T^e dialogue 
is the drama . We see before us individual person- 
alities with strong convictions and definite phi- 
losophies of life. The real drama issues from the 
struggle of these conflicting conceptions of life. 
When Richard Mansfield considered Shaw's Canr 
dida for production, only to reject it, he suc- 
cinctly expressed in a letter to Mr. William Win- 
ter (April 10, 1895) the conventional attitude of 
the past : " There is no change of scene in three ' 
acts, and no action beyond moving from a chair 
to a sofa, and vice versa. 0, ye Gods and little 



THE BATTLE WITH ELUSIONS 171 

fishes ! " In illustration of the more modem atti- 
tude, one may cite Oscar Wilde, who asserted that 
he wrote the first act of A Woman of No Impor- 
tance in answer to the complaint of the critics 
that Lady Windermere^s Fan was lacking in ac- 
tion, " In the act in question," says Wilde, " there 
was absolutely no action at all. It was a perfect 
act/' 

A well-constructed drama, says Eloesser, is like 

(a lawsuit, in which the parties to the suit are per- 
mitted to speak only the essential things. In a 
sense, a drama of Shaw or Brieuz, to employ a 
French law term, is a dramatic proch-verbal. 
The dramatist presents the characters as right \ 
from their several points of view, and resolutely \ 

refuses to take sides. The work of a dramatist / 

like Galsworthy often fails to stir the emotions V / 
because of this extreme impassibility, this infiexi- ' , > 
ble sense of rectitude and fairness. The newer \ 
comedy of our time arises from the unveiling of / 
the motives of character, the ruthless exposure of 
sentimental, crude, irrational, antiquated, conven- 
tional views of life. In this new comedy we ob- ^ 
serve less a conflict of wills than a clash of ideas. 

/ Oscar Wilde once observed that the greatest dra- 
matic effects are produced by a conflict between 

[ our artistic sympathies and our moral judgment. 
Ibsen's whole series of social dramas may be re- 
garded as a series of conflicts between the newer 



r* 



>'■ 



172 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

and the older ideas and ideals. In his Introduc- 
tion to The Cenci, Shelley — ^who possessed deep 
insight into the essentials of the dramatic art — 
shrewdly observes : " It is in the restless and 
anatomizing casuistry with which men seek the 
justification of Beatrice, yet feel that she has done 
what needs justification ; it is in the superstitious 
horror with which they contemplate alike her 
wrongs and their revenge, that the dramatic char- 
acter of what she did and suffered consists.'* An 
excellent example of the play of conflicting ideas 
and sentiments, falling outside the contemporary 
dramatic movement, is Le Gendre de M, Poirier 
of Augier and Sandeau. 

The characteristic examples of modem drama 
/ exhibit the merciless unmasking of conventionsd 
morality, of social hypocrisy, of conspiracies of 
silence. They are essentially dramas of disil- 
lusionment^ The process of disillusionment is the 
drama. The comic dramatist forces his audience 
to laugh at the victim while he is being disillusion- 
ized; the more serious dramatist moves the spec- 
tator to pity and terror over the spectacle of the 
disastrous consequences of acting in blind obedi- 
ence to views of life which are patently false and 
illuding. Bernard Shaw has given graphic de- 
scription of his own comedies in the definition : the 
function of comedy is nothing less than the de- 
struction of old-established morals. "People 



THE BATTLE WITH H^LUSIONS 173 

imagine/' he observes, ^^ that actions 4lnd feelings 
are dictated by moral systems, by religious sys- 
tems, by codes of honor and conventions of con- 
duct which lie outside the real human will. Now 
it is a part of my gift as a dramatist that I know 
that these conventions do not supply them with 
their motives. They make very plausible ex post 
facto excuses for their conduct ; but the real mo- 
tives are deep down in the will itself. And so an 
infinite comedy arises in every-day life from the 
contrast between the real motives and the alleged 
artificial motives." Tlie dramatist refuses to be 
imposed upon, and forces his audience either to 
laugh consumedly at the imposture, or sympa- 
thetically to discern behind the imposture the aus- 
tere face of tragedy. 

That fine French actor, the late Edmond Got, 
in the first volume of his Diaryy has tersely ex- 
pressed tlie function of the drama, according to 
conventionsd standards, in the following passage: 
^^ So long as there are opposed interests on the 
stage, situations that is to say, and these as strong 
as possible, if it all holds together and is carried 
out in a more or less logical crescendo^ you have 
bagged your game, Vaffaire eat dans le sac.** 
Here we see represented all the classic require- 
ments expressed in colloquial form : the " opposedj 
interests " to furnish the desiderated conflict ; the! 
" structural union of the parts " so dogmatically 



174 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

insisted upon by Aristotle ; the " cumulative inter- 
est " of the series of events moving toward a 
crisis ; and action which consists of ^^ plot and in- 
cidents " so arresting in their nature as to main- 
tain " continuity of interest." It is against the 
hampering restrictions of these classic require- 
ments that the new school of dramatists, in Eng- 
land and on the Continent, continue to protest, 
both critically and constructively. Indeed the nat- 
uralist, no matter of what nationality, abjures the 
artificial "preparation" of the French school; 
displaces plot in favor of a series of graphically 
noted scenes which, in themselves, constitute a sug- 
gestive epitome of a certain phase of human life ; 
and reduces action to its lowest terms by present- 
ing, as a substitute for things done, the clash of 
mind on mind, the pressure of character against 
character, or the straining of the soul on the 
leash of heredity, environment, institutionalism, 
social determinism. There are no such things as 
" scenes " in the conventional theatrical sense with 
Hauptmann in his social dramas, for example ; life 
is continuous and consecutive. In such plays, the 
interest is not cumulative from act to act: every- 
thing is on the same dead level of interest. The 
incidents are juxtaposed, as in life, rather than 
interwoven, as in art. 

A somewhat different aspect of the new dram- 
aturgy is afforded by the plays of Barker, of 



THE BATTLE WITH H^LUSIONS 176 

Galsworthy, of Shaw, and the younger school of 
British playwrights. Impartial, many-sided dis- 
cussion of a specific problem or a definite situation, 
devoid of real action save that of powerful cere-^ 
bration — this is an accurate description of The 
Madras House, of Getting Married, of The 
PigeoTh. Such a play is not a structural union 
of organic parts : it is a series of mental films of 
the same object taken from different angles. The 
speech of the characters, to employ a happy 
phrase of Meredith, " rambles concentrically •'* 
It is much as if some definite question of human 
life— marriage, poverty, an immoral inheritance, 
the relation of the sexes, civic responsibility — 
were set upon a revolving pedestal ; and as it re- 
volves, the many facets of the subject are reflected 
^in the minds of the characters. In the main the 
/unities of time and place are observed; there is 
imity of impression only in the sense that a single 
subject is seen in contrariety, caught in the mir- 
rors of sharply delineated mentalities. Such art \ 
is not life seen through the prism of the tempera-^ /\ 
ment of the artist: it is life, a comer of exist- v 
ence or a phase of social thought, seen through \ 
the many temperaments of the artist's dramatic j 
characters. This new species of drama is essenti- j 
ally intellectual in its appeal ; it may or may not be 
propagandist in spirit, depending entirely on the 
temperament of the individual artist. Shaw and 



> 



176 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

Brieux represent the extreme propagandist ele- 
ment; Barker occupies the middle ground; whilst 
Galsworthy and Tchekhov represent the impas- 
sibility of consistent realism. Thus Shaw says 
that " an interesting play cannot in the nature 
of things, mean anything but a play in which 
problems of conduct and character of personal 
importance to the audience are raised and sug- 
gestively discussed " ; and accordingly " we now 
have plays, including some of my own, which be- 
gin with discussion and end with action, and others 
in which the discussion interpenetrates the action 
from beginning to end,'* 

The intellectual rather than the emotive tex- 
ture of contemporary drama has been accentuated 
by Hauptmann: "I believe the drama to be the 
expression of germine mental activity, in a stage 
of high development. . . . From this aspect 
there results a series of consequences which en- 
large endlessly the range of the drama beyond 
that of the ruling dramaturgies on all sides, so 
that nothing that presents itself, either outwardly 
or inwardly, can be excluded from this form of 
thmking, which has become a form of art.'* In 
protest against the conception of drama as a 
conflict of wills and of the dramatist as a " Pro- 
fessor of Energy," Brieux insists that the theater 
^^ will be obliged, more and more as time goes on, 
to devote itself to the study of the great topics 



/ 



THE BATTLE WITH H^LUSIONS 177 

of the day," For his part, Galsworthy denies 
that it is the function of the artist to work for a 
practical end. " It is the business of the artist," 
he reservedly says, " to set down just what he sees 
and what he feels, to be negative rather than posi- ^ 
tive." At the same time, he acknowledges that 
" the writer's own temperamental feeling gives the 
hint of a solution to his readers " ; but " the solu- 
tion is conveyed in flux." 

The most conspicuous practitioner on the Con- 
tinent of the dramaturgy which abjures action 
and dispenses with the " dramatic " isTchekhov. 
In such a play as The Cherry Garaenrior ex- 
ample, absolutely nothing happens — in the ordi- 
nary sense of the term ; there is no conflict of wills, 
the leading characters are deficient in th*; faculty 
of volitional decision. Yet in this, as in his other 
plays, there is an infinitude of psychological ac- 
tion : soul struggles, bankruptcies of will, catastro- 
phes of indecision, tragedies of passivity. Many 
of Maeterlinck's plays have accustomed us to the 
character of passive acceptance and the play of 
quiescence; such plays are adventures of the soul 
in quest of the unknown. In speaking of Shake- 
speare, Wilde once said : " It is because he did 
nothing that he has been able to achieve every- 
thing." In a classic passage, Maeterlinck says: 
" To me, Othello does not appear to live the au- 



178 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

gust daily life of Hamlet, who has time to live, 
inasmuch as he does not act." 

The guiding principle of the new school, the ex- 

fperimental school, is the intention to show us real 
life, in its simple, normal, sincere aspects, and at 
the same time to reveal to us exactly what is tran- 
spiring in the minds of characters placed in such 
circumstances. Real life is not packed fuU of 
crises; real life, save at rather rare moments, is 
not ^ dramatic.'' So we hear a man like Barker 
making his plea for the " normal drama " — ^^ nor- 
mal plays about and for normal people, capable of 
normal success under normal conditions.'' Such a 
drama must present an undistorted view of life; 
it must be ^^a comedy which shall reflect and 
clarify, honestly and humorously, many aspects 
of the confused life around us." It is not the 
** serious drama," or the " advanced drama," or the 
** intellectual drama " that these men are trying to 
/ produce. It is the " sincere drama " which Tchek- 
r hov, HankmpG&teworthy, Barker^ iSoughton, and 
'fheir congeners are striving to createTlEe Hrama 
! which shall make interesting on the stage the things 
' which interest us in ordinary, every-day life — 
things trivial enough in themselves, yet in their 
setting more touching, more moving, more affect- 
ing than all the dramatic conjunctures, theatrical 
episodes, the artificial and far-fetched situations of 
the theater of commerce. One of the most gifted 



THE BATTLE WITH DELUSIONS 179 

exponents in the United States of this sincere 
drama is Mr. George Middleton. In his one-act 
plays, the art form which he has achieved with 
deserved success, he exhibits refreshing sincerity, 
earnestness, and reserve. 

The merely dramatic element in life is coming 
to be recognized as essentially occasional; its 
transposition to the stage imparts to it the note 
of the factitious. It is the human element, the 
pathos of ^Hittle, nameless, unremembered acts,'' 
the courage to endure the life that is, the idealism 
that goes forward in the face of indifference and 
hostility, the tragi-comedy of all that we are, of \ 
all that we fear and hope — ^this is the material of I 
the new drama. ** Sincerity bars out no themes,'' 
says Galsworthy in a suggestive passage: ** — it 
only demands that the dramatist's moods and vis- 
ions should be intense enough to keep him ab- 
sorbed; that he should have something to say so 
engrossing to himself that he has no need to stray 
here and there and gather purple plums to eke out 
what was intended for an apple tart. Here is the 
heart of the matter: You cannot get sincere 
drama out of those who do not see and feel with 
sufficient fervor; and you cannot get good, sin- 
cere drama out of persons with a weakness for 
short cuts. There are no short cuts to the good in 
art" 

In the light of the contributions of the experi* 



180 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

mental and pioneering dramatists of the contem- 
porary era, I shall make an effort to formulate a 
working definition of a play. It is important to 
note that our vocabulary of dramatic criticism is 
deficient in the requisite terms for including all the 
species of plays which find a place on the boards. 
We have no exact analogue, pithy, and concise, 
for the German term Schauspiel. The bourgeois 
drama is only imperfectly rendered by domestic 
drama ; an even less desirable term is the drama of 
middle-class life. The very thing we are dis- 
cussing- has itself become suspect. A drama is, 
from its very_ derivation, a branch, not of statics, 
but of kinetics. It really means a doing, an action 
of some sort, through the intermediary of human 
beings. Yet we are confronted to-day with a start- 
ling contradiction in terms ; for, as we have shown, 
many contemporary dramatists produce theater- 
pieces which are successfully produced before 
popular audiences, in which the tone is contempla- 
tive and not active. In such plays the stress is 
thrown upon being to the virtual exclusion of do- 
ing. We are driven, finally, to a definition, not 
of the drama, but of the play. 

A T day is any presentation of human Ufe by b"- 

^ , man interp rete rs on a stage in a theater J}g ffvr)p a^ 

• ' re presentative audienc e. The play intrinsically, 

and its representation by the interpreters, must 

be so effective, interesting, and moving as to induce 



THE BATTLE WITH H^LUSIONS 181 

the normal individual in appreciable numbers to 
make a sacrifice of money and time, either one or 
both, for the privilege of witnessing its perform- 
ance. The subject of a play may be chosen from 
life on the normal plane of human experience or 
the higher plane of fantasy and imagination. Both 
the action and the characters of the play may be 
dynamic, static, or passive. By action is desig- 
nated every exhibition of revelative mobility in the 
characters themselves, whether corporeal or spirit- 
ual, relevant to the processes of elucidation and 
exposition of the play; as well as all events, ex- 
plicit or implicit, in the outer world of deed or the 
inner life of thought, present or antecedent, which 
directly affect the destinies of the characters, im- 
mediately or ultimately. The characters may be 
evolutional, static, or mechanical — ranging from 
the higher forms of tragedy, comedy, tragi- 
comedy through all forms of the play down to the 
lower species of melodrama, farce, and pantomime. 
A common, but not an indispensable, attribute 
of the play is a crisis in events, material, intellect- 
ual or emotional, or a culminating succession of "^ y] 
such crises; and such crisis generally, but by no 
means invariably, arises out of a conflict involving \ 
the exercise of the human will in pursuit of de- 
siderated ends. A play may be lacking in the ele- 
ments of conflict and crisis, either or both; since 
the pictorial and plastic, in an era of the picture- 



A-- 



test THE CHANGING DRAMA 

frame stage in especial, are themselves legitimate 
and indispensable instrumentalities of stage rep^ 
res^tation. A play cannot be purely static, can- 
not wholly eliminate action. Physical, corporeal 
action may nevertheless be reduced to its lowest 
terms ; and in such plays the action consists in the 
play of the intellect and of the emotions. All 
dramas are plays ; all plays are not dramas. The 
drama may be defined as the play in which there is 
a distinctive plot, involving incidents actively par- 
ticipated in by the characters ; a plot must be of 
such a nature that it can be clearly disengaged 
and succinctly narrated as a story. A drama in- 
volves the functioning of the human will, whether 
in the individual or in the mass; and includes 
within itself a crisis in the affairs of human beings. 
Dramatic is a term descriptive of the qualities in- 
herent in, indispensable to, the drama. A play 
may or may not be dramatic. A drama is a par- 
ticular kind of play. 

The characteristic features of the contemporary 
play, as the result of the revolution of technic, 
may now be detailed. They are, concretely, the 
transposition of the crucial conjuncture from the 
outer world to the inner life; the enlargement of 
the conception of the dramatic conflict in order to 
include the clash of differing conceptions of con- 
duct, standards of morality, codes of ethics, phi- 
losophies of life; the participation in such conflicts 



THE BATTLE WITH ILLUSIONS 188 

not only of individuals, but also of type embodi- p 
ments of social classes or even segments of the 
social classes themselves; the elimination of both 
conflict and crisis without denaturization of the ' 
literary species known as the play ; the invention t 
of the technic by which a single subject is explored, 
from many points of view, as distinguished from 
the earlier technic in which many subjects are ex- 
hibited from a single point of view. Most pro- 
found and far-reaching of all changes has been the 
change wrought by the revolutionary spirit in / 
morals, ethics, and social philosophy. The social ^ 
has been added to the individual outlook ; the tem- 
poral has been surcharged with the spirit of the 
eternal. The contemporary playwright devotes 
his highest efi^ort to the salutary, if not wholly 
grateful task, of freeing mankind from the illu- 
sions which obsess and mislead. Until the scales 
fall from his eyes, the modem man cannot stand 
high and free, cannot fight the great fight against 
physical, social, institutional, and moral determin- 
ism. The drama of the modem era is essentially 
the drama of disillusion. 



vn 



THE NEW TECHNIC 

** The dKtic will be always showing us the work of art in 
some new relation to our age. He will always be reminding 
us that great works of art are living things." — Oscab Wilde. 

The average spectator in a theater uncon- 
sciously accepts, as " part of the game," the de- 
vices of authors and stage-managers to relieve the 
sense of unnaturalness inseparable from all stage 
representations. After becoming a confirmed 
playgoer, his sense of naturalness becomes less 
exigent; his acceptance of inevitable unnatural- 
ness becomes second-nature with him. Only some 
gross violation of probabilities or some absurd 
lapse in fitness wakes him, with a start, to a real- 
ization of the tissue of conventions in which he is 
enveloped. When I witnessed Rostand's Chante- 
cler in Paris, it was the fiction of illusion which was 
uppermost throughout. One's attention was suc- 
cessfully diverted from such secondary conditions 
as the meaning of the piece and the poetic elo- 
quence of the lines to such primary considerations 
as : " How wonderfully, ridiculously like a black- 
bird is Galipaux, with his capricious hops and 

185 



w 



186 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

flirts ! '* or " What a wonderful mechanical device 
it must be which enables the peacock to spread its 
tail ! '* or " How very imlike nature are many of 
those lumpy, awkward, costumed creatures ! " It 
was quite another thing to me with Maeterlinck's 
Blue Bird in London; the figures were symbolic, 
not realistic, and it was no strain upon the imag- 
ination, " ready and willing " to accept the per- 
sonification of a loaf of bread or a jug of milk. 

To secure the requi site sense of illusion in the 
theater, it is always a question of adapting the 
play to the proper plane of conventi on ; the effort 
to make the plane of poetic fantasy coincide with 
the plane of complete realism clearly promises 
disaster. Despite their extravagant conventional- 
ity, the drawings of the heroes of the Cherokees 
executed by native artists serve as models for the 
Indians of the particular epoch — so realistic are 
the piercing eyes, the aquiline nose, the prominent 
cheek-bones, the cruel lips. In certain arts, an 
effort at closer approach to naturalness results 
in increased artificiality. One sees in the Luxem- 
bourg, for example, busts executed in marbles of 
various colors, dexterously joined together. This 
attempted realism only accentuates the sense of 
the conventions employed. Indeed, after a time, 
convention itself becomes reality. Any attempt at 
replacing the convention by a photographically 
realistic representation only ends disastrously. 



L*^ 



THE NEW TECHNIC 187 

Any audience will accept without the flutter of an 
eyelid the conTentional Viking's ship. A perfect 
model of such real Viking's ships as I have seen in 
the National Museum of Christiania, Norway, 
with its excessive fragility, primitive log deck- 
cabin, and incredible smallness, would strike the 
average stage audience if presented on the stage 
in a play as a patent absurdity. All the arts take 
smnething for granted. The artist and the spec- 
tator enter into a conspiracy to wink at this, to 
accept that, in the interest of art. For however 
realistic may be the temper of any age, art is not 
and can never be mere photographic and exact im- 
itation of life. 

All art rests upon convent ion. The drama, v^ 
which musters all the other arts into its service, 
involves innumerable tacit agreements between 
actors and audience. The drama is the most ob- 
jective, most impersonal of all the arts, the re- 
sult of the restrictions of physical and mechanical 
conditions. Yet it is, indubitably, that form of 
art which involves the greatest number of implied 
contracts. There is a tacit agreement between 
player and spectator that certain flagrant 
breaches of veracity are to be winked at — in fact, 
positively ignored; the requisite degree of the 
illusion of reality is absolutely precluded by the 
refusal to become a partner in this necessarily mu- 
tual compact. This tacit conspiracy, if originally 



188 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

carried out in the proper spirit, becomes in course 
of time a totally unconscious process in the mind 
of the spectator. The moment one enters the thea- 
ter he becomes a willing believer in the artificial 
operations of a mimic world, ruled by many laws 
and governed by many conventions, which do not 
obtain in the world of actuality. As the sculptor 
does not hesitate to execute a statue of George 
Washington in bronze, of Booker Washington in 
marble, so a Wagner produces a music drama deal- 
ing with a race of beings whose only mode of vocal 
communication is that of song. I cannot recall 
making a more palpable effort to fulfil the spec- 
tator's part in the contract than when I attended 
performances of the classic French drama at the 
Com^die Fran9aise, and writhed under the mechan- 
ical beat of the alexandrine, the conventionality of 
the intonations, the interminable length of the 
tirades. The shrill screams of Mounet-Sully at 
the Theatre Francais, the conventionality of his 
postures and gestures, the spasmodic convulsive- 
ness with which he carries off the interminable 
longueurs, all serve to tax the patience of the mat- 
ter-of-fact Anglo-Saxon, unaccustomed to the con- 
ventions of French acting in the interpretation of 
Greek drama. In the Japanese tragic drama, the 
actors wear masks, and every gesture, every tone 
of voice, is an inherited convention. A hand is 
held two inches in front of the grinning masks rep- 



THE NEW TECHNIC 189 

resenting the actor's face — a gesture signifying 
tears — and the audience weeps in sympathy. Such 
manufactured pathos leaves the Occidental^ unac- 
customed to the convention, totally unmoved. In 
Japanese comedy, no masks are worn, thereby im- 
parting far more mobility and verisimilitude to 
the representation; but the conventions of arti- 
ficiaUy pitched voice and mechanically prescribed 
movements and gesture prevail. 

In language, the thrust toward realism is pe- 1 
culiarly the attribute of the contemporary drama. 
Congreve gave increased naturalness to his char- 
acters through the highly elastic prose which they 
employed ; but they " talked like a book," never- 
theless, in supple, undulant, literary prose. The 
convention of wit in the Restoration and post- 
Restoration comedies assuredly had some rea- 
sonable excuse in the fact that wit was the so- 
cial criterion of the age ; and when at last we come 
to Sheridan, a classic wit of English comedy, we 
find a drama in which wit has become a pure con- 
vention. Out of the mouths of maid-servants, 
valets, low fellows of the baser sort, fall epigrams 
and witticisms, every whit as brilliant as those of 
their masters. In the contemporary era, Oscar 
Wilde wrote a prose of incomparable style, beauty, 
and distinction ; but so pervasive was his brilliance 
that there is, in his dramas, a faulty sense for 
characterization. Many of the best things said by 



190 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

his characters are extrinsic^ not germane to the ac- 
tion, and so perfectly interchangeable among 
themselves. To the true realist, there must be a 
• virtual elimination of personal pyrotechnics or in- 
dividual commentary — ^what the French describe 
las mots d'auteur, Coimtless speeches in Wilde's 
plays can be bodily removed without affecting the 
jsituation. I challenge any one to go over Ibsen's 
{plays of modem life and delete anything — save 
connectives, exclamations, and interjections. 

The case for the modem dramatic realist is ad- 
mirably put by Ibsen in regard to Emperor and 
GaUleem in his historic letter to Edmund Gosse, 
January 16, 1874 : " You are of the opinion that 
the drama ought to have been written in verse, and 
that it would have gained by this. Here I must 
differ from you. The play is, as you must have 
observed, conceived in the most realistic style ; the 
illusion I wished to produce was that of reality. 
I wished to produce the impression on the reader 
that what he was reading was something that had 
really happened. If I had employed verse, I 
should have counteracted my own intention and 
prevented the accomplishment of the task I had 
set myself. The many ordinary, insignificant 
characters whom I have intentionally introduced 
in the play would have been indistinct and indis- 
tinguishable from one another, if I had allowed 
them to speak in one and the same rhythnucal 



THE NEW TECHNIC 191 

measure. We are no longer living in the days of 
Shakespeare. Among sculptors there is already 
talk of painting statues in the natural colors. I 
have no desire to see the Venus of Milo painted, 
but I would rather see the head of a negro executed 
in black than in white marble. Speaking gener- 
ally, the style must conform to the degree of ideal- 
ity which pervades the representation. My new 
drama is no tragedy in the ancient acceptation; 
what I desired to depict were human beings, and 
therefore I would not let them talk the ^ language 
of the Gods.' " 

In this paragraph is a passage which may be 
accepted as the formula of the modern dramatic y. 
realist : " fhe style must conform to the degree of 1 
ideality which pervades the representation*** If ' 
the drama is purely idealistic, the medium may 
very properly be rhymed verse; if only partially 
idealistic, with strongly realistic touches, the 
medimn may be blank verse, in a combination of 
rhymed verse or blank verse, and prose; if, how- 
ever, the drama is purely realistic, the language 
can only be prose, approximating to the spoken ^ 
language of actual life. Of all the conventions of 
the drama, as modified by modem practice, that of 
dialogue exhibits the most remarkable alteration 
due to realistic theory and intention. Into his 
dramas of modem life, Ibsen put only that which 
he himself had lived through; and as a conse- 



192 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

quence he could only express it in the most natural^ 
comprehensible modem speech. After 1876, he 
confessed that he " exclusively cultivated the very 
much more difficult art of writing the genuine 
plain language spoken in real life." He was that 
" bold trampling fellow " of whom Beddoes speaks 
— ^who preferred " to beget than to revive." The 
full-fledged expression of Ibsen's views, representa- 
tive of modem practice, is found in his letter to 
Lucie Wolf, May 26, 1883: — ^** Verse has been 
most injurious to dramatic art. A scenic artist 
whose department is the drama of the present day 
should be unwilling to take a verse in his mouth. 
It is improbable that verse will be employed to 
any extent worth mentioning in the drama of the 
immediate future; the aims of the dramatists of 
the future are almost certain to be incompatible 
with it. It is therefore doomed. For art forms 
become extinct, just as the preposterous animals 
of prehistoric times when their day was over." 

Delightful comparisons might be instituted be- 
tween the language employed in similar situations, 
in both comedy and tragedy, and at different 
periods in the drama's history. The chaff of 
poetic, declamatory, rhetorical, theatrical effects 
has in large measure been eliminated, by the fine- 
meshed sieve of realism, from the better drama of 
to-day. The hackneyed, the stereotyped, the con- 
ventional no longer have any standing. Modem 



THE NEW TECHNIC 198 






dramatic prose must not only convey the impres- 
sion of actuality : it must be terse, crisp, expres- P^ 
sive, undulating. Qialogue is the feature of the I 
contemporary drama in which realism is at a maxi- 1 
mum, convention at a minimum. Contemporary 
dramatic dialogue of the higher type, as found in 
Ibsen or Hauptmann, for example, may be said 
to be " stylicized," in one respect only : the char- 
acters enunicate no conviction that is not essential, 
that is not actually indispensable, as a means for 
the elucidation of character. The haphazard, the 
aimless, in dialogue is ruthlessly discarded. The 
test in Ibsen's case is quickly made: try to omit 
any passage or paragraph, and you wiU immedi- 
ately discover that you have thereby lopped 
away an organic part of the dramatic structure. 
Such a method as that of Ibsen demands of the 
contemporary spectator the most concentrated at- 
tenti(»i. The auditor cannot afford to miss any- 
thing — since everything is underscored. 

It is not, strictly speaking, a convention that 
contemporary dramatic dialogue must be conver- 
gent in its effect, pointing always toward the. rev- 
elation of the characters or the explication of the 
situation. It is a convention reduced to the van- 
ishing point that contemporary dramatic dialogue 
must not be an exact replica of the hcJting, ex- 
clamatory, repetitive, discursive speech of every- 
day life. The physical conditions of representa- 



194 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

tion compel both economy of attention and econ- 
omy of means ; and as already pointed out, certain 
conventions in the theater are accepted as more 
real, more valid for the medium employed, than 
a minutely perfect reproduction of reality. The 
realistic reproduction of all conversations in full 
is inconceivable in a novel, even in a Jean-ChriS" 
tophe. It is, if anything, even more inconceivable 
in the drama, especially the modem drama of 
compression and culmination. If it were possible 
to create a perfectly realistic drama, it would re- 
quire very much more than the " two hours traffick 
of the stage." 

The indispensable esthetic principle governing 
the writing of modem dramatic dialogue has pro- 
duced one significant consequence, in that it has 
made such dialogue exceedingly difficult to achieve 
successfully. It must not be merely literary or 
poetic; it cannot afford to be long-winded 
or irrelevant; it dare not be monotonous or 
merely businesslike. Its prerequisite is this: it 
^*must be always and everywhere germane to the 
action, attuned to the prevalent mood of the piece, 
and vocal of the emotional life, thought, passion, 
and sensibility of the characters. Only a genius 
could speak the dialogue of a play of Oscar 
Wilde's — this is the weakness of an antiquated 
conception of the drama. The average man or 
woman, living a tense life within specified intervals. 



THE NEW TECHNIC 196 

might conceivably employ the dialogue of the 
modem realist, Ibsen, Strindberg, Brieux. It must 
be granted that convention is there, none the less ; 
for no race of people, at all times, ever spoke the 
dialogue of Ibsen, perfection of condensation, ap- 
positeness and brevity, or the dialogue of Shaw, 
for example, with its Hotchkiss rapid-fire of bril- 
liant epigram, cogent argument, and driving dia- 
lectic. 

A study of Ibsen's preliminary drafts for his 
plays has fully convinced me of the scientifically 
experimental side of his genius. He set the stand- 
ard — this was the supremely difficult task of the 
pioneer and the genius. It was inevitable, once 
realism in dramatic art was established, that many 
of the artificial conventions of the past should ulti- 
mately be rejected by a generation which made 
naturalness the watchword and slogan of its art. 
Ibsen was noteworthy in escaping the obsession of 
the naturalism of sensation. Just as Turgenev, 
in protest against the physiological mania of Zola, 
avowed that he cared not whether a woman 
sweated under her arms or in the small of her back, 
so Ibsen expressed in his own work the most re- 
fined spirit of modern realism. For the physiolog- 
ical vulgarities of naturalism he substituted thei 
psychological fitness of realism. Contrary to the 
view of the Frenchman, who said that language 
was invented for the purpose of concealing 



196 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

thoughti Ibsen's doctrine was that the object of 
/dramatic language was to reveal character^ 
thought, emotion — ^and with the utmost economy 
of means. No long speeches, no redundancy, no 
senseless multiplication of ideas that may be dis- 
pensed with. He used a word, a mere exclamation, 
a breath — ^if thereby he could reveal the psycho- 
logical processes within the mind of the character. 
The modem dramatist has taught the modem au- 
ditor the trick of his method. To-day, the modem 
auditor demands the consideration due to one in- 
telligently trained in the implicative suggestive- 
ness, the psychological subtlety of contemporary 
dramatic prose. 

Nothing to-day so conspicuously reveals the in- 
expert craftsman as the employment of the artifi- 
cial devices which characterized the "well-made 
piece *' of Scribe and the French school. Sardou's 
A Scrap of Paper is the last word of mechanical 
dexterity in craftsmanship. Nowadays the acci- 
/ dental, the adventitious, the psychologically iml- 
probable are rigorously excluded by the best 
modem craftsmen. The intelligent modem spec- 
tator cannot be imposed upon by the arbitrary or 
the coincidental happening. The happenings of 
the play, whether they are events in the ordinary 
physical sense or psychological changes in the 
characters themselves, must be inevitable conse- 
quences of the given circumstances and the given 



THE NEW TECHNIC 197 

personalities in those circumstances. An admir- 
able example of such treatment is Mr. Eugene 
Walter's T^^ Easiest Way, rigorous in its logic 
and mercilessly sincere in its handling of a hack- 
neyed theme. This modem recdistic tendency 
ordinarily expresses itself in the abandonment 
of the "curtain" — ^the theatrical fifude* For 
to the modem realist a drama is no longer 
conceived as a succession of theatrical " sit- 
uations " ; it is a more or less accurate transcript 
of life, modified in accordance with the selective 
and interpretive genius of the dramatist. The 
contemporary craftsman seeks to convey a sense 
of the normality and continuity of life ; the scenes 
have no end in the sense of a finale. Even the 
drama itself is not designed to create a sense of 
finality ; the end of many a modem play leaves the 
spectator with a sense of life still going on after 
the fall of the curtain. 

A notable consequence of the modem realistic 
attitude toward dramatic art is found in the aus- 
tere rigor of the contemporary dramatist in re- 
gard to that most ancient of dramatic conventions, 
the soliloquy. The word itself, soliloqvivm^ was 
coined by St. Augustine ; and the root idea, speak- 
ing alone, has been preserved in the English word. 
There are many different variations and offshoots 
of the soliloquy; but in general it is true that 
soliloquies are always of two species. There is 



/ 



198 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

the verbal soliloquy, in which the speaker ia tsJking 
to himself, i.e. speaking aloud; €uid there is the 
mental soliloquy in which the speaker is voicing 
his inmost thoughts, that is, thinking aloud. There 
is the familiar device of the dialogic " aside," from 
which must be distinguished the monologue known 
as the " apart." The speaker of the soliloquy im- 
agines himself alone, assumes himself alone, or 
temporarily forgets that he is not alone ; whereas 
the speaker of the "^ apart " never even temporarily 
forgets the proximity of others. Soliloquies are 
usually employed as technical devices of the author 
for one or the other of two purposes — either as ex- 
^ position monologues for the purpose of conveying 
to the audience in soliloquy facts needful for the 
understanding of the plot on the part of the au- 
dience, or as'^devices for exhibiting the designs of 
the dramatist, serving the purpose of self-char- 
acterization. 
I Throughout dramatic history the soliloquy is 
\ a conspicuous techniccd device of the dramatic 
craftsman. In the Greek dramas of .^chylus, 
Sophocles, and Euripides, pure soliloquys are com- 
paratively infrequent, owing to the presence of 
the chorus ; whilst in the dramas of Seneca the ar- 
bitrary confidant usually silently listens to the out- 
pourings of the hero or heroine. The, religious 
note of the soliloquies in the morality plays, with 
its tendency to religious introspection, prepared 



THE NEW TECHNIC 199 

the way, as Arnold in his study of the solilo- 
quy as found in Shakespeare points out, for the 
Hamlet type of soliloquy in the Sheakespearean 
drama. In the hands of Shakespeare and Mar- 
lowe, the soliloquy reached its greatest vogue, 
variety, and perfection, revealing wide differentia- 
tion. It is only during the contemporary era that 
we observe the decline and virtual disappearance 
of the soliloquy, although Moli^re in his greatest 
achievements dispensed with this useful device. 

Centuries ago criticism discovered the secret 
flaw in the soliloquy, and condemned it as an 
imnatural device. As long ago as 1667, the Abb^ 
d'Aubignac in his Pratique du ThSatre^ said: 
" First of all, an actor must never make a Mono- 
logue, which he addresses to the Audience, with a 
design to inform them of something they are to 
know; but there must be found out something in 
the Truth of the Action that may be colorable to 
make him speak in that manner." D'Aubignac thus 
accepts adequate motivation as a sufficient excuse 
for the narrative soliloquy ; whereas Dryden, writ- 
ing at about the same period (Essay of Dramatic 
Poesy, 1666) I enters a strong caveat against the 
speech directed to the audience in order to ^^ ac- 
quaint them with what was necessary to be known, 
but yet should have been so contrived by the poet 
as to have been told by persons of the drama to 
one another." A century later, the critics have 



200 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

split up into two camps, as Cailhava (De Vart de 
la comedie, 1786) asserts, some wishing to banish 
utterly soliloquies, others wishing to multiply 
them. The crucial fact to be noted in this con- 
nection is that criticism, however hostile, had vir- 
tually no effect in achieving the abolition of the 
soliloquy. It was not until a great dramaturgic 
genius, inspired by the spirit of modem realism, 
came to the decision that the soliloquy violated the 
fundamental principle of naturalness, a necessity 
for the moderm temperament, that the soliloquy 
received its death blow. It was not the critical 
iconoclast but the practising craftsman who ban- 
ished the soliloquy and its poor relations to the 
limbo of outworn and faded stage properties. 

As stage-manager, Henrik Ibsen produced many 
plays of the French school of Scribe, which left 
a marked influence upon his earlier dramas. In his 
own Lady Inger of Oestraat (1886), for example, 
Ibsen shows himself to be a very inexpert crafts- 
man, much too frequently employing the conven- 
ient devices of the soliloquy and the aside. But 
intensive study of production, conducted in a thor- 
oughly realistic spirit, soon convinced Ibsen that 
conventions which to a former age seemed indis- 
pensable to the drama were, after all, mere fash- 
ions of the stage or makeshifts of the inexpert 
craftsman. When Ibsen began to depict in prose 
the life of his own age, his incorruptible sense of 



THE NEW TECHNIC 201 

veracity led him to reject the artifical eonyentions 
employed in his earlier, technically derivative 
plays. The League of Youths Ibsen's first play in 
prose, is a " well-made piece " in five acts after the 
familiar Scribe model. Yet it has historic signifi- 
cance, in that Ibsen here first prophesies by deed 
the realistic technic of the contemporary drama. 
In a letter to Georg Brandes (June 86, 1869), 
Ibsen says of his " new work " : " It is written in 
prose, which gives it a strong realistic coloring. 
I have paid particular attention to form, and 
among other things I have accomplished the feat of 
doing without a single monologue — in fact, with- 
out a single aside." The powerful influence of his 
realistic practice, fortified by intense conviction, 
effected a revolution in stage technic ; and fourteen 
years later we find him writing to Lucie Wolf: 
" My conviction, and my art principles forbid me 
(to write a prologue for a festival performcuice at 
the Christiania Theater, June, 1883). Prologues, 
epilogues, and everything of the kind ought to be 
banished from the stage. The stage is for dra- 
matic art alone; and declamation is not dramatic 
art." 

There is a certain modem school, embracing 
students of the stage €uid its changing me- 
chanical conditions, who study the drama as 
a branch of political economy. To them, suc- 
cessful stage production is the final test of 



y 



'7 



je02 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

dramatic art — although we know, nowadays, 
that there Is no such thing as *^ the public " 
but Innumerable ^^ publics " ; and In consequence, a 
disastrous failure In London may be a popular 
success In New York, a sticcis ffestime In Paris 
may be a succh de furore In Vienna, The same 
play produced In different localities In the same 
city, and with Identical casts, may In one case take 
and hold the popular fancy. In the other fall to 
get over the footlights. The exponents of the 
modem mechanical school of theater criticism 
dogmatically assert the predominant Influence of 
the playhouse upon the drama, minimizing 
to the vanishing point the Influence of the creative 
artist. At the risk of becoming unintelligible, 
let us remember that, to the mathematician, 
one variable Is defined to be a *^ function " of an- 
other. If a certain variation In one Is accompanied 
by a simultaneous variation In the other. Thus 
we say that u Is a function of or [t^ = / (a?)]. If 
one variable Is a function of several others, say 
three variables, this Is expressed by saying 
that t^ Is a function of a?, y, « [«^ = / (^> y» «)]• 
The mechanical theater critic thinks he has 
exhausted the subject when he affirms that the 
drama (a) Is a " function " of the three variables 
— the theater (a?), the actors (y ), and the audience 
(«)• The drcunatlc critic here loses sight of the 
fundamental mathematical truth that If j^ is a 



THE NEW TECHNIC «08 

function of x [y = f (d?)]i then it is reciprocaDy 
true that a? is a function of y [a? = F (y)]. Not 
only is the drama a function of the theater, the 
actors, and the audience. These, in their turn, in 
a certain perfectly specific sense, are themselves 
functions of the drama. The theater, the actor, 
the audience — each is a function of the drama. 
This, I take it, is the reed meaning of the modem 
revolution in the art of the theater and the archi- 
tectural reconstruction of the playhouse. y 
The dramatic critic is guilty of another cardi- 
nal oversight in attributing to the physical 
and mechanical intermediaries for the production 
of the drama, for the most part passive and plas- 
tic, an influence in importance and result equal to 
that of the creative artist himself. The confusion 
and f aUacy now regnant m contemporary dramatic 
criticism will continue to prevail until it is frankly 
recognized : first, that the drama is not a ** func- 
tion " of the creative artist, but is the artist him- 
self, in the same sense as le style c*est Vhomme; 
and second, that the drama on the one hand, 
and the theater, public, and actors on the other, 
are reciprocal influences. The mechanical trade of 
building may exert a certain normalizing influence 
upon dramatic technic ; but the creative art of the 
dramatist actually does exert, and in the future 
will increasingly exert, a predominant and con- 
structive influence upon the playhouse, its shape, a^ 



804 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

structure, scenery, curtains, lighting, and an in- 
finity of subsidiary questions. The contemporary 
movement has created an entirely new art of which 
the mechanical school of theater critics, oddly 
enough, seem miraculously ignorant. Craig, Rein- 
hardt, Stanislavsky, Barker, Falk, D'Annunzio, 
Piatt manipulate the theater and its devices as the 
great painter manipulates his colors. The very 
form and structure of the playhouse is beginning 
to undergo radical modification — in Munich, in 
Warsaw, in Berlin, in Buda-Pesth. The new tech- 
nician in the theater, in contradistinction to the 
mechanical theater critic, realizes that the theater 
was made for the dramatist, and not that the 
dramatist was made for the theater. Far from 
conceding that the theater determines the form 
of the drama, the modem artist, thoroughly revo- 
lutionary in spirit, is prepared to alter the 

1/ structural proportions of the playhouse at will 
in conformity with the new conditions imposed on 
the theater by the creative craftsman, or to 
abandon the theater entirely and go out into the 
open air. 

From a study of the history of the drama, it 
is clear that neither criticism unsupported by the 
example of successful practice, nor great example 
unsupported by the wide prevalence of certain 

^* esthetic principles, sufficed to abolish the soliloquy. 
Otherwise, it would have been abolished in France 



THE NEW TECHNIC 805 

by MoK^re, in England by Dryden. If the form 
of the drama was conditioned by the physical ex- 
igencies of the theater, why did Moli^e on the ten- 
nis-court stage dispense with the soliloquy in the 
Critique^ the Impromptu and the Comtesse d*ES' 
carbagnas; or Comeille in the PompSe, La suite 
du menteur^ ThSodore and Pertharitef If the ban- 
ishment of the soliloquy is ^^an inevitable conse- 
quence of the incandescent bulb/' why is it that 
we find a long narrative monologue in Pinero's 
Magistrate {1885) f for example, an elaborate solil- 
oquy in Wilde's Lady Windermere*s Fan, innu- 
merable instances of soliloquies and asides in early 
works of both Pinero and Jones? It was, demon- 
strably, not until these men came under the in- 
fluence of Ibsen's realistic technic (not, assuredly, 
as an ^^ inevitable consequence of the incandescent 
bulb"!) that they banished the soliloquy — al- 
though all their plays were written for and pro- 
duced on the picture-frame stage of the nineteenth 
century. Why do the soliloquy, the aside, and the 
apart still survive to-day in the melodrama and 
the farce, produced on this magic picture-frame 
stage? 

To-day, nothing so shocks a sensitive critic— 
or indeed, a self-respecting audience — as to have to 
endure a play which opens by the descent of two 
persons to the footlights to carry on an exposi- 
tory conversation beginning: " It is now twenty-five 



206 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

years since, etc." I can still summon the feeling 
of profound disgust with which, as a boy of eight, 
I witnessed the opening scene of a dramatization 
of Rider Haggard's She: two men sitting on a log 
for half an hour while they related half the story 
of the novel to put the audience en rapport with 
the situation. Equally unendurable to a modem 
audience, enjoying a highly cultivated realistic 
sense as a consequence of the revolutionary prac- 
tice of Ibsen and the realistic spirit animating 
modem literature, is the device of the soliloquy' or 
the monologue, serving as a first aid to ignorant au- 
diences. A technical tour de force, to be sure, 
is Strindberg's The Stronger, a dramatic mono- 
logue addressed by one character to another, 
who remains silent though emotionally expressive 
throughout. The expository monologue here is 
the action, is the drama. Soliloquies are unreal— 
^ it is one of the conventions which the dramatist 
has succeeded in discarding. As a matter of fact, 
people sometimes — and not infrequently — do give 
audible expression to their thoughts and feelings 
when they are, or fancy themselves, alone. But 
the soliloquy of a sane man in actual life is ex* 
ceedingly brief — a few words, or, at most, a few 
broken phrases. Such a soliloquy is allowable to- 
day, in comedy and even in the serious drama, since 
it is in perfect conformity with actual life. In 
the dramas of Ibsen we have happy illustrations 



THE NEW TECHNIC JM)7 

of this type of brief soliloquy — notably the five 
" link " speeches in The PiUars of Society (1877), 
the three brief soliloquies at the ends of the first 
and last acts of A DolVs Howe (1879), and the 
" Erhart ! At Last ! '% the whispered words of Mrs. 
Borkman at the sound of the door-bell, opening 
the first act of John Gabriel Borkman (1896). 
According to the canons of to-day, the soliloquy 
is overdone in A DoWs House: Mrs. Linden's 
soliloquy at the opening of the third act is just 
barely permissible; but Nora's soliloquy at the 
opening of the second act is entirely indefensible — 
a survival of the artificial technic of Scribe and the 
French School. The soul struggles of the char- 
acters, the tumult of their inner emotions, are ex- 
pressed most eloquently in the treatment given 
them by Ibsen in Hedda Gdbler (1890) and The 
Master BtiUder (1892). More eloquent than ex- 
plicit dialogue is the enigmatic finale of the second 
act of The Master Builder: 

Hilda. (Looks straight in front of her with 
a far-wway expression^ and whispers to herself. 
The only words audible are) . . . frightfully 
thrilling. • . • 

In Hedda Gahler^ the ungovernable rage of 
Hedda over the exasperating tactlessness of Aunt 
Julia is expressed entirely in gesture: ^^Hei>da V 
walks about the room^ raising her arms and clench^ 



208 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

ing her hands as if in desperation, ..." Surely 
no soliloquy in any contemporary drama is so hor- 
rifying in its effect, so evocative of the true dra- 
matic pity and terror, as that at the close of the 
third act of the same play : 

Hedba. {Throws one of the qvires into the 
fire and whispers to herself.) Now I am burning 
your child. Thea ! . . . Burning it, curly-locks ! 
(Throwing one or two more quires into the stove.) 
Your child and Eilert Lovborg's. (Throws the 
rest in.) I am burning — ^I am burning your child. 

An unusually effective use of the soliloquy, in 
/ comedy, is the .somnambulistic mental wandering 
of Bluntschli at the close of the first act of Shaw's 
Arms and the Man (1894). In the Preface to 
Miss JitUa, Strindberg, essentially an experi- 
mental craftsman, has made a very interesting 
suggestion in regard to the monologue: 

" Our realists have excommunicated the mono- 
logue as improbable; but if I can lay a proper 
basis for it, I can also make it seem probable, and 
then I can use it to good advantage. It is proba- 
ble, for instance, that a speaker may walk back 
and forth in his room practising his speech aloud ; 
it is probable that an actor may read through his 
part aloud, that a servant-girl may talk to her cat, 
that a mother may prattle to her child, that an old 
spinster may chatter to her parrot, that a person 



THE NEW TECHNIC 809 

may talk in his sleep. And in order that the actor 
for once may have a chance to work independently, 
and to be free for a moment from the actor's 
pointer, it is better that the monologues be not 
written out, but just indicated." 

This bold suggestion of a return to the methods 
of the Italian Comedia delV arte finds realization 
upon certain stages in Italy to-day. Thus far, 
however, this "new art form that might well be 
called productive,*' the art of improvisation, has 
not yet won its way into general recognition and 
adoption. 

Dramatic craftsmanship has to-day reached a 
point of such complex excellence that the best 
dramatists refuse to employ such an unworthy de- 
vice as the lengthy soliloquy; first, because it is 
fundamentally untrue to actual life ; ^ second, be- 
cause it seeks to give information which may be 
more veraciously imparted in more natural ways ; 
third, because new technical virtuosity has in- 
vented newer and more natural methods of ex- 
position, thereby making possible the total aban- 
donment of the lengthy soliloquy. Indeed, in an 
age marked as much by unparalleled communi- 
cativeness as by chronic introspection, the device 
of the soliloquy is superfluous. In the forthright 
dramas of to-day — from the farces of W. S. Gil- 
bert and the comedies of Shaw to the tragi-come* 
dies of Wedekind and the serious dramas of Ibsen 



.-^ 



210 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

— ^the characters speak out in the presence of 
others with such revolutionary frankness, such 
fathomless naivete, that the harboring of secret 
thoughts seems almost to have disappeared in the 
economy of contemporary civilization. The solil- 
oquy, save of very brief length and in exceptional 
cases, is no longer needed by the " advanced " 
individual who prefers to tell everybody every- 
thing! 

The ^ide , a minor form of soliloquy, is now 
forever relegated to the limbo of threadbare stage 
properties. It is a petty, bastard form of the 
soliloquy, serving either the serious purpose of 
discovering the intent of the character or the 
comic purpose of betraying his naivete or sense of 
humor. The " stage whisper " is as universal a 
mark of derision as the mother-in-law joke or the 
Burgessic bromide — for no other reason than that 
it is absurdly unnatural, a contradiction in terms ; 
and still survives merely as a sort of " dead give- 
away " — principally for comic effect. The aside 
still survives in the musical comedy, the farce, the 
melodrama, and even in light operas such as those 
of Gilbert and Sullivan. But the aside is con- 
demned by the modem realist, who makes his char- 
acters utter aloud the daring iconoclasms, the mor- 
dant ironies, the solemn profundities they would 
once have uttered sotto voce. The device known 
as t he apart is less crude than the aside ; in mo- 



THE NEW TECHNIC 211 

ments of great tension people undoubtedly some- 
times ejaculate or mutter, so as to be heard by 
those present, words indicative of their secret 
thoughts, momentarily uppermost in their minds. 
An effective modern use of the apart is the sotto 
voce exclamation of Christine at the close of 
Schnitzler's Liebelei. Christine's lover has been 
killed in a duel, fought because of another woman. 
When the news reaches her that her lover, whom 
she has last seen alive and well, is dead and actu- 
ally buried, she wildly prays to be taken to his 
grave. All attempt to dissuade her — ^finally suc- 
ceeding only by the cruel suggestion: "perhaps 
you'U find the other one there — praying.*' 

Chbistine. (To herself, her eyes peed.) I 
won't pray there. . . . No. . . . (She rushes 
out; the others speechless for the moment.) 

The technic of Pinero, for all its vaunted 
smoothness and finish, is antiquated in its too con- 
stant resort to such devices as the aside and the 
apart — as compared with the almost austere nat- 
uralness of Ibsen. " The people of Sir Arthur Pi- 
nero," as Howe pertinently observes, " have a little 
scale of factitious inaudibility up and down which 
they run: Thinking , To himself , Half to himself ^ 
To herself in a whisper , To herself in a low voice^ 
In an undertone. Under her breath as he passes 
on. In her ear, and so on." 



212 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

Allied to the device of the soliloquy is that of 
the confidant , who for long has been wont to share 
the secrets of the protagonist. Instead of speak- 
ing solely to himself — or to the audience, if the 
allusion be wholly shattered, — the protagonist 
in this case confides his woes to a sympathetic 
listener. Frequently the confidant not only draws 
out the protagonist, but also grows quite com- 
municative " off his own bat," thus materially 
furthering the action of the piece. By means of 
the confidant, as well as by means of the soliloquy, 
the audience is informed of many facts needful for 
a comprehension of the situation. As Sardou has 
confessed, the dramatist often finds himself con- 
trolled by the conditions of the situation which 
he projects; his only mode of escape is to have 
part of the plot, certain intervening links in the 
story, inserted through the intermediaries of con- 
fidences and personal confessions. The undis- 
guised confidant, in the crudest form, is banished 
from the modern stage, because it is a spurious, 
and oftentimes unnatural means of furthering the 
action of the piece. But it is quite unreasonable 
to suppose that the confidant, naturally intro- 
duced and realistically portrayed, will ever dis- 
appear from the stage. 

A play presumably connotes a hero, a heroine 
(either or both), a villain, and a confidant. We 
shall see, later on, how the hero, through the 



THE NEW TECHNIC 218 

presence of democracy re-enforced by modem 
feminism, has shown a steady degenerescence dur- 
ing the modem period. The " hero '* as type 
began to exhibit a " spontaneous tendency to 
variation," as the result of bourgeois tendencies 
in civilization. Along another avenue, centuries* 
earlier, the hero as type, through a " process of 
selective breeding," tended toward identification 
with the villain as type. The classic illustration 
is the Richard III of Shakespeare. In scientific 
terminology, the " villain " is the most remarkable 
** mutant " in the history of literature, as ex- 
hibiting the widest departure from the parent 
form of hero. If the naturally good man becomes 
the naturally bad man, and the tragic guilt be- 
comes hardy crime, then the " hero " becomes the 
" villain." Under the pitiless searchlight of mod- 
ern realistic criticism, the " stage villain," as type, 
has dropped out of sight. His light flickered, 
failed, and finally went out with Krogstad in A 
DolTs House. The confidant, as type, is subject 
to only superficial variations — since it is itself 
a parent form. The reason for this is simply 
that art here approximates to life with marvelous 
exactitude: for in life the confidant is a fixed 
quantity. Though the types, as stage entities, of 
" hero " and " villain " tend to lose their most 
conspicuous attributes, and the undisguised 
" confidant " recedes before the advance of real- 



y^ 



\^- 



214 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

istic criticism, it must be obvious, on the score 
of human reality, that the ^^ dominant " figures 
in the drama will always be the protagonist, the 
antagonist, and the sympathetic recipient of con- 
fidences. 

The essential meaning of the contemporary 
drama is its intimacy, the confidential revela- 
tion of motives, thoughts, and feelings. The 
confidential friend is frequently portrayed by 
the rigorous craftsman — notably Ibsen, with Mrs. 
Linden in* A DolVs HimsCy Mrs. Elvsted in 
Hedda Gabler, and Dr. Herdal in The Master 
BvUder as the most conspicuous examples. Ber- 
nard Shaw, who has vehemently protested against 
^^recklessness in the substitution of dead ma- 
chinery and lay figures for vital action and real 
characters," employs the confiduit, more or less 
thinly disguised, in several of his plays — Praed in 
Mrs. Warren's Profession^ McComas in You Never 
Can Tell, Cokane in Widowers* Houses* In his 
Creditors, Strindberg builds up an entire play 
out of confidential revelations, a quite remarkable 
technical achievement — Gustav, the diabolu^ ex 
machina, accomplishing his revenge in winning 
elaborate confidences from husband and wife, 
Adolph and Tekla. In his Liebelei, Schnitzler 
makes every possible use of the confidant, in this 
case bosom friend and boon companion, who plays 
every role from that of procurer and second in 



THE NEW TECHNIC 816 

a duel to the mourner who performs the last sad 
rites! In Pinero's The Second Mrs. Tanqueraff, 
Cayley Drummle is so very serviceable as to excite 
smiles over the broken illusion of reality. Cer- 
tainly it must be acknowledged that the r61e of 
confidential friend is a natural role played by al- 
most every one every day of his life. Thousands 
of men and women in the world are peculiarly fitted 
by nature to play the part of confidant, and do 
actually go through life playing nothing else. The 
confidential friend will always play his part on the 
stage — on the conditions that he be naturally pre- 
sented, and that his presence be not extraneous or 
adventitious, but integral and vital to the psy- 
chological processes of the action. 

Ibsen's later dramas afi^ord a peculiarly instruc-* 
tive illustration of his technical dexterity in ex- 
position, or rather, in explication. These dramas 
are frequently reminiscent in tone ; a considerable 
part of the explication consists in the narration of 
events which have transpired in the past. This is 
an inevitable attribute of the drama of recessive ac- 
tion. Ibsen early learned to dispense with the anti- 
quated scene in which two characters baldly tell 
each other things which the auditor needs to learn. 
In certain of his most carefully wrought-out plays, 
characters who have not seen each other for a long 
time meet again ; and, in the course of their rem- 
iniscences which arise in the most natural fashion, 



216 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

many antecedent events and circumstances are 
brought to light. This device is employed again, 
and again — in The Pillars of Society^ A DoWs 
HousCj Ghosts, Rosmershdm, The Lady from the 
Sea, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder, When 
We Dead Awaken. This technic, remarkably skil- 
ful as it is, is really a modern substitution for the 
artificial device of the confidant. It is (mly an 
added proof of Ibsen's technical virtuosity. 

In the Greek drama, the chorus served as inter- 
mediary between author and audience, conveying 
at once the requisite information for advancing 
the action and the author's purport and designs. 
In modem times, we are confronted in the drama 
with a sort of individualized Greek chorus, de- 
vised to bridge over the yawning gap between 
dramatist and public. Such a figure becomes 
^^ classified in French drama as the rajs onneur, the 
expositor and interpreter of the author's inten- 
tion. In another light we may look upon this 
figure with the eyes of the Germans, and classify 
him as the ideal spectator — a reincarnation of the 
man of sound esthetic instincts, himself the stand- 
ard and final arbiter of taste — of Aristotle's 
Poetics {6 xctptsts). In the plays of Dumas fUs, 
for the most part given over to the inculcation of 
peculiarly Gallic doctrines of individual and so- 
cial morality, the raisonneur is well-nigh indispen- 
sable for giving sharp definition of the author's 



THE NEW TECHNIC 217 

thesis. In such a polemic play as An Enemy of 
the People Ibsen gives strong driving force to his 
thesis by combining in the person of Dr. Stock- 
man the roles of hero and social exegete. In The 
Wild DucTCy he epitomizes the ironic strain of the 
piece in the person of the unilluded observer, Dr. 
Helling. In both Stockman and Relling, be it 
noted, the features of the man, Ibsen, are readily 
distinguishable. In such a contemporary Grerman 
drama as Sudermann's Die Ehre, Count Trast 
seems little more than a personal epitome of the 
author's interpretation of the title; in Pinero's 
The Second Mrs. TanqzLeray, Cayley Drummle 
proves doubly useful — as confidant and as 
genial embodiment of social criticism, of the 
world's view-point; while in Shaw's John BuWs 
Other Island^ Keegan the priest is the indi- 
vidualized Greek chorus par excellence. In the 
drama of ideas, the thesis-play, in which the 
author endeavors to generalize about life from 
a specific case, there is always a strong pressure 
in favor of a character who will serve to give un- 
mistakably a succinct exposition of the thesis. 
Hence it is that the plays of such dramatists as 
Hervieu, Brieux, and Shaw have a schematic cast, 
and ordinarily contain some character or even 
characters, of which one indispensable character- 
istic is to justify the works of the author to his 
public. Such characters seem to be mere mouth- 



218 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

pieces of the author, and so exhibit a certain me- 
chanicai rigidityTiterally~c6mic. 

VVithout needlessly multiplying examples, we 
may conclude that dramatic art has not yet 
succeeded in dispensing with some variant form 
of the ancient Greek chorus, call it by what- 
soever name you will. The raisonneur, though 
modem in appearance, in reality is only the 
survival of one of the oldest of the conventions 
of the drama. It is one of those conventions, 
structurally inherent in technical chirography, 
by which the dramatist meets the audience 
half-way in the task of interpretation. As the 
lyric is the most subjective, the drama is the most 
objective form of literary art. It was Victor 
Hugo who said that drama is the art of being 
somebody else ; and assuredly the successful dram- 
atist must never merely take sides in a dramatic 
wrangle or ** load the dice '* against characters 
holding views of life antagonistic to his own. 
Every character must have his say without let 
or hinderance ; and the dramatist must avoid the 
attitude of the partisan. Galsworthy is a con- 
spicuous contemporary exemplar of the dramatist 
of complete impartiality. The raisormeur or ex- 
positor survives to-day, less as replica of con- 
temporary humanity, than as symbol tff the dram- 
atist's personal struggle to obviate the extreme 
objectivity of drama. The thesis-drama, the 



THE NEW TECHNIC 219 

drama with a purpose, is importing into dramatic 
art, as practised to-day, a new, an increased sub- 
jectivity. Unsympathetic critics affirm that the 
plays of Shaw and Brieux are merely ingenious 
excuses of Shaw and Brieux for giving lectures 
on social morality. In an age marked by soci- 
ological speculation and persistent moral propa- 
gandism, the raisonneur typifies the critical cast, 
the polemical passion, of modem thought. 



CHAPTER Vm 
THE PLAY AND THE READER 

"The human mind is essentially partial. It can be 
efficient at all only by picking out what to attend to, and 
ignoring everything else — ^by narrowing its point of yiew. 
Otherwise, what little strength it has is dispersed, and it 
loses its way altogether." — ^Wiluak Jamks. 

As recently as the year 1906 Mr. Henry Arthur 
Jones gave testimony, which to-day seems almost 
incredible in view of the remarkable change that 
has come about, in regard to the practice of pub- 
lishing plays. " On talking over the matter with 
a leading American actor," he said, ^^ I was de- 
lighted to find him at one with me in desiring 
that the immediate publication and circulation of 
plays may become an established custom amongst 
us." Ten years earlier, according to Mr. Bernard 
Shaw, it was virtually impossible to secure a pub- 
lisher for modem plays. The answer to queries 
was stereotyped : **No use ; people won't read plays 
in England." The real suiFerer in the case was not 
only the dramatist of the advanced type, who, 
because his plays were not commercially adapted 
to long runs, was thus deprived of all means 

221 




2S2 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

of reaching the public, either through the theater 
or the printed play — save at a personal financial 
sacrifice; but also the public, both readers and 
theater-goers, who were thus effectively shut off 
from the dramatists, or would-be dramatists, be- 
cause of an economic fact doubtless based in part 
upon a misconception. 

This misconception has been corrected in the 
main by three forces which have been persistently 
at work during the past fifteen years. The plays 
of Ibsen have never been generally successful on 
the stage of English-speaking countries in the 
degree attained on the Continent, although, to be 
sure, there have been, now and then, isolated in- 
stances in which some play of Ibsen has won popu- 
lar success. On the other hand, the plays of 
Ibsen translated into English have steadily won a 
wide and ever-increasing reading public. Such 
an infiuence has undoubtedly exercised a revolu- 
tionary effect upon the economic conditions of the 
publishing trade. For the publisher quite prop- 
erly argued that if the plays of foreign dram- 
atists, even in translations more or less inadequate, 
achieved a steady sale, it was quite likely that the 
plays of native dramatists who were men of letters 
as well might prove commercially profitable. A 
socialist like Bernard Shaw, with socialistic views 
on business, in 1898 published in two volumes his 
Plays, Pleasant and Unpleasant. He boldly took 



THE PLAY AND THE READER 228 

the financial risk of the transaction, in his un- 
usual and eccentric contract, realizing that this 
was the only adequate means of reaching the public 
which his plays were designed to interest. Such an 
incident is significant in the history of the pub- 
lishing of plays in English ; for Shaw demonstra- 
ted that plays, stoutly bound and well printed, 
were salable commodities. 

A final impetus has been given to the publishing 
of plays, not only by the swing of the dramatic 
movement, the popularization of the idea of read- 
ing plays as literature, but also by the unremitting 
efforts of critics and students of the contemporeury 
drama to bring the best examples to the attention of 
the public. I might mention a large number of crit- 
ics, men and women, in both England and America, 
who have imselfishly labored in the interest of the 
contemporary drama, in order to restore it to 
the public consciousness as a branch of published 
literature. In this country striking results have 
flowed from the courses in the modern drama of- 
fered at the leading American universities — notably 
Harvard, Columbia, and Yale. To-day there are 
a large number of colleges and universities, in- 
cluding State institutions, which offer courses in 
the modem drama. The plays of the best play- 
wrights in England and America — notably Shaw, 
Galsworthy, Wilde, Pinero, Jones, and Barker; 
and Fitch, Thomas, Moody, and Mackaye — can 



224 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

now be secured in printed form, in cheap as well 
as in expensive editions. 

The drama of to-day, whether of Ibsen or 
Brieux, D'Annunzio or Shaw, Hauptmann or 
Synge, has won international hearing as a pub- 
lished work of literature, no less than as a play 
^ produced in a theater. In France there has not 
been any real divorce in modem times between 
literature and the drama; but the same is not 
true of the Germanic countries. After a long, if 
amicable separation, the reunion between litera- 
ture and the drama has at last been effected in 
England and the United States as well as in Ger- 
many and Austria. In the United States in par- 
ticular there is a greater relative consumption of 
^^ outlander " plays, either in English or translated 
into English, I venture to say, than in any other 
country. There are comparatively few plays by 
English and American dramatists which are 
translated into foreign languages ; and it is indis- 
putable that there is only a very small, though 
gradually growing, number of students of the 
EngUsh and American drama in France, Ger- 
many, Austria, Italy, and the Scandinavian coun- 
tries. Translations into many languages of the 
works of men of thought and originality, such as 
Wilde and Shaw, have paved the way; and the 
time is assuredly not far distant when the wave of 
cosmopolitan culture will sweep down all barriers 



THE PLAY AND THE READER 226 

in the path of its irresistible progress. Such an 
organization as The Drama League of America 
has within its hands the opportunity of revolution- 
izing public sentiment and public judgment of 
drama, and bringing about its universal recogni- 
tion as one of the supreme cultural forces of the 
century. 

The popularization of the printed play, as a 
phase of the resurgence of the drama in English- 
speaking countries, is one of the most momentous 
of literary phenomena of the period. A direct 
consequence of this new movement is the develop- 
ment in the form and technic of the contemporary 
printed play. The school of modem realism, seiz- 
ing upon the mystery and immensity of little 
things, has exhibited as one of its chief character- 
istics the apotheosis of the insignificant. We of 
to-day have been wakened to a consciousness of the 
miracle of the commonplace, the significance of 
the insignificant. This realistic movement has 
wrought its indelible effect upon the modem 
drama, in technic as in content. The drama, by 
reason of its temporal and physical restriction, 
can never exhibit the elaboration, detail, and mi- 
nute character delineation of the novel. But the 
dramatist who intends to write drama that shall 
be literature as well must bring his highest lit- 
erary expertness to bear in order to achieve a 
certain realism, a certain naturalness in the 



226 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

printed play, and thereby bring it into com- 
petition, as both commercial commodity and 
artistic product, with the elaborate fiction of 
the realistic novelist, such as James, Bourget, 
or Edith Wharton. In order to accomplish 
this difficult task two things are necessary: 

/ to write nothing in a play that you would 
not write in a novel, and to import into the art 

^ of writing drama, in so far as is permitted by the 
restrictions of the theater, the methods of the real- 
istic novelist. To put it another way, the dram- 
atist is beginning to do away entirely, in the pub- 
lished play, with everything that reminds the 
reader of a theater and its accessories. At the 
same time, in order so far as possible to substitute 
the author's actual conception for the actor's in- 
terpretation of the characters, the dramatist has 
begun to describe each character as he appears, 
with sufficient particularity, and from time to time 

-- to specify his movements, his gestures, and the 
emotional play of his features. By these thor- 
oughly realistic methods the dramatist has done 
away with the hideous jargon of the theatric code, 
the scenic chirography which used to make a play 
read like an architect's specifications. It was Shaw 
who, as the most eminent and original exemplar 
of this new dramatic realism, protested against the 
practice of those playwrights " who deliberately 
make their plays unreadable by flinging repulsive 



THE PLAY AND THE READER 227 

stage technicalities in the face of the public, and 
omitting from their descriptions even that sim- 
plest common decency of literature, the definite 
article. I wonder how many readers Charles 
Dickens would have had, or deserved to have, if he 
had written in this manner: 

[Sykes lights pipe — calls dog, loads pistol with 
newspaper, takes bludgeon from R. above "fireplace, 
and strikes Nancy.] Nancy: Oh, Lord, Bill! 
[Dies. Sykes xcipes brow — shudders — takes hat 
from chair O. P. — sees ghost, not visible to ou- 
dience — and exit L. U. -E.]." 

The purpose of the new technic is to translate 
the play from the sign language of specifications 
into the language of reality — to replace jargon by, 
art. A reference to practising craftsmen of the 
contemporary period will suffice to exhibit how re- 
cent has been the change. The worst features of 
** French's Acting Edition,*' for instance, are found 
in this ** horrible example" from Augustus 
Thomas's Alabama, first produced in 1890. 

Act ni 

Scene: Ruined gate-way, C. Masonry post, R, 
staging; the other, L, in ruins. Virginia creepers 
over both. Fragment of waU on either side. Back^ 
grownd of tropical shrubbery. Calcium on for 



228 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

moon^ iUummating wall, and front of stage only. 
AU back of ttall in almost total darkness. Foot-- 
lights down to a glow. No border lights. Song 
off by negroes, before rise of curtain, " Carry me 
back,** continued diminuendo after curtain is up. 
Discovered: Davenport and Mrs. Page. ; 

No effort has been made here, it will be observed, 
to spare the reader the meaningless lingo which, 
to the stage-manager, is expressive descripticMi. 
'If we go back to Ibsen, and examine his dramas 
from The League of Youth onward, we shall ob- 
serve that he never uses stage jargon; and that, 
as he perfected his technic, his stage directions 
passed from the extremely laconic to the ade- 
quately descriptive. Take first the opening de- 
scription of The League of Youth: 

" The Sex>enteenth of May. A popular fete in 
the Chamberlain* s grou/nds. Music and dancing in 
the background. Colored lights among the trees. 
In the middle, somewhat towards the back, a ros- 
trum; to the right, the entrance to a large refresh- 
ment tent; before it, a table with benches. In the 
foreground, on the left, another table, decorated 
with flowers, and surrotmded xvith lounging-chairs. 
A crowd of people. Lundestad, with a committee 
badge at his buttonhole, stands on the rostrum. 
RiNGDAL, also with a committee badge, at the table 
on the left. 



THE PLAY AND THE READER ^29 

Ibsen's characters were often more real to him 
than his personal acquaintances. He knew his 
characters almost from their birth — in ancestral 
hereditament, in the features of their environment, 
in nascent qualities. The plays themselves are " in- 
finitely noted '*; but the above stage description is 
bare to the point of nakedness. The plays are 
divided into " acts " ; in the earlier plays the de- 
scriptions may call attention to the stage of a 
theater; there is no attempt at description of the 
characters. If we turn now to the opening scene 
of Hedda GableVj we shall notice a marked change 
in the direction of greater elaboration : 

A spacious, handsome, and tastefully furnished 
dramng-room, decorated in dark colors. In the 
back, a wide door-way with curtains drawn back, 
leading into a smaller room decorated in the same 
style as the drawing-room. In the right wall of 
the front room, a folding-door leading out to the 
hall. In the opposite wall, on the left, a glass 
door, also with curtains drawn back. Through the 
panes can be seen part of a veranda outside, and 
trees covered with autumn foliage. An oval table, 
with a cover on it, and surrou/nded with chairs, 
stands well forward. In front, by the wall on the 
right, a wide stove of dark porcelain, a high- 
backed arwrchair, a cushioned foot-rest, and two 
footstools. A settee, with a small round table in 



230 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

front of it, fiUs the upper right-hand comer. In 
front, on the left, a little way from the wall, a 
sofa. Further bach than the glass door, a piano. 
On either side of the door-way at the back, a what- 
not Tvith terra-cotta and majolica ornaments. 
Against the back wall of the inner roont, a sofa^ 
with a table and one or two chairs. Over the sofa 
hangs the portrait of a handsome elderly man in 
a generaVs uniform. Over the table, a hanging 
lamp, with an oval glass shade. A number of bou- 
quets are arranged about the drawing-room, in 
vases and glasses. Others lie upon the tables. The 
floors in both rooms are covered with thick car- 
pets. Morning light. The sun shines in through 
the glass door. 

Miss Juliana Tesman, with her bonnet on 
and carrying a parasol, comes in from the haU, 
followed by Berta, who carries a bouquet wrapped 
in paper. Miss Tesman is a comely and pleasant- 
looking lady of about sixty-fhe. She is nicely but 
simply dressed in a gray walJdng-costume. Berta 
is a middle-aged whman of plain and rather cou/nr 
trifled appearance. 

Here we observe that the description is minute 
in its detail, and that there is a tiny thumb-nail 
sketch of each character. The description of the 
room, we remark, consists after all only in speci* 
fications ; so that when we see the play, as I have 



THE PLAY AND THE READER 2SJ 

seen it at the Lessing Theater in Berlin, we ob- 
serve it to be an exact replica of the room de- 
scribed by Ibsen. Furthermore, the principal 
characters, when they enter, are projected before 
one in little cameos, which indelibly fix their per- 
sonality upon one's consciousness. 

(Hedda enters from the left through the m- 
ner room. She is a woman of mne-and-twenty. 
Her face and figure show refinement and distinc- 
tion. Her complexion is pale and opaqtue. Her 
steeUgray eyes express a cold, wnruffled repose. 
Her hair is of an agreeable medium brown, but not 
particularly abumdant. She is pressed in a taste- 
ful, somewhat loose-fitting morning gown.) 

Ibsen pursued a genuinely scientific method in 
his studies of character and society; and in con- 
sequence, no doubt, deemed it unnecessary to 
elaborate personal descriptions of characters 
which are fathomed in the exposition of the play 
itself, as he expressed It, " down to the last fold 
of their souls." 

The German and Austrian dramatists, for the 
most part, have not yet succeeded in putting their 
stage directions in language which does not refer 
directly to the stage itself. For example, Haupt- 
mann, in Yor Sornienaufgang, gives a diagram of 
the scene ; so also does Schnitzler in certain of his 
plays. II PiU Forte^ by the Italian, Giacosa, is 



282 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

noticeable by reason of this peculiarity. Bahr 
is very effective in his artistic pen-portraits of the 
characters. Pinero uses a much more summary 
method in stage descriptions than does Ibsen in 
his later manner, as well as a very laconic de- 
scription of the characters. Illustrations from 
The Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith are characteris- 
tic: 

The scene is a room in the Palazzo Arconati^ 
on the Grand Canals Venice. The room itself is 
beautiful in its decayed grandeur, but the furni- 
ture and hangings are either tawdry and mere- 
tricums or avowedly modem. The three windows 
at the back open on to a narrow, covered balcony, 
or loggia, and through them can be seen the west 
side of the canal. Between the recessed double^ 
doors, on either side of the room, is a fireplace 
out of use, and a marble mantel-piece, but a 
tiled stove is used for a wood fire. Breakfast 
things are laid on a table. The swn streams into 
the room. 

(Agnes enters. She moxfes firndy but noise- 
lessly — a placid woman with a sweet, low voice. 
Her dress is plain to the verge of coarseness; her 
face, which has little color, is at first glance al- 
most whoUy unattractive,) 

In the case of D'Annunzio, the artist continu- 
ally asserts himself throughout his plays, no mat- 



THE PLAY AND THE READER 833 

ter in how apparently insignificant details. Con- 
ceiving the drama to be an expression of the 
highest art of the poet, he haus filled every inter- 
stice of his poems with the sense, the odor, the 
color of poetry. Thus, in Gioconday the character 
of the rooms artistically expresses the character 
of the owners ; he makes us feel this as an element 
of the emotional atmosphere of the piece. Thus, 
following the description of a certain room, comes 
this passage: 

The sentiment expressed by the aspect of the 
place is very different from that which softens 
the aspect of the room in the other hov^e, over 
against the mystic hUh Here the choice amd 
analogy of every form reveal an aspiration 
towards a camalj victorioiusy and creative life. 
The two divine messengers seem to stir and widen 
the close atmosphere incessantly with the rush of 
their immense flight. 

It is the conviction of D'Annunzio that it is his 
primary function, as artistic technician, to create 
an atmosphere of real life. This is possible only 
through the effort to cast stage directions — 
" business " — into the form of art, not into mere 
ejaculated, shorthand commands to the actor; 
never to mention the stage or any of its proper- 
ties ; always to create the completest possible ar- 
tistic illusion. A few of his stage directions, cited 



284 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

below, indicate their two- fold role; to convey to 
i the reader the emotional under-currents of the 
-v dramatic movement, and to the actor a sense of 

his task. 

(A pause, burdened toith a thousand u/nde fined, 
and inevitable things,) 

• • • • • 

{Involwntarily she turns, and looks around the 
room, as if to embrace everything that is in it 
with one look. The curtains tremble, the rain 
increases. She breathes in the damp fragrance 
that enters at the window. For one instant the 
strung bow of her will slackens.) 

• • • • • 

(. • • The water gathers tremulously in her 
eyes. Two marvelous tears form little by little, 
shine, and slowly run down her cheeks. Before 
they reach her mouth she stops them with her 
fingers, diffuses them o^oer her face, as if to bathe 
in lustral dew; for it is not by the remembrance 
or the trace of human bloodshed that she is mooed, 
but by the sight of a thing of beauty, solitary and 
free. She has received the supreme gift of beauty; 
a truce to anguish, a pause to fear. The sublime 
lightning-flash of joy has shone through her 
wounded soul for an instant, rendering it crystal- 
line as tears. These tears are but the souTs mute 
and ardent offering before a masterpiece.) 



THE PLAY AND THE READER 236 

This is poetry ; this is art. It may, however, be 
urged with reason by the puzzled actress that she 
is quite unable to make "two tears slowly run down 
her cheeks.'^ Signor D'Annunzio would be en- 
tirely within his rights, as a defender of the new 
technic, in retorting: "You cannot deny that I 
have enthralled the reader of my play. And as 
for you, the player — ^I have described in poetic 
langua^ the external act of the characters, and 
also the spiritual states through which they pass. 
It is for you, as an artist in your domain, to real- 
ize these expressions, in his own domain, of another 
artist — ^myself. How you do it is not my concern : 
it is your concern as an interpreter of the spirit 
of the new drama." 

Oscar Wilde was a remarkable genius, beyond 
doubt. As a dramatist he was guilty of the grav- 
est technical faults, was positively mawkish in his 
sentimentality, and absurdly conventional in stage 
morals. Yet because he was a consummate stylist, 
a conversational prodigy, an artist in every fiber, 
he triumphed signally over his tremendous handi- 
caps. Certain of his descriptions of his characters 
are like delicate miniatures — such, for instance, 
as this of Sir Robert Chiltem in 



A man of fortify but looking sofnewhat younger. 
Clecm-sJuweny with finely-cut features, dark-haired 



236 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

and darh-eyed, A personality of mark. Not popular 
— few personalities are. But intensely admired hy 
the few^ and deeply respected by the many. The 
note of his manner is that of perfect distinction, 
with a slight tonch of pride. One feels that he is 
conscious of the success he has made in life. A 
nervous temperament with a tired look. The 
finely-chiseled mouth and chin contrast strikingly 
mth the romantic expression in the deep-set eyes. 
The variance is suggestix^e of an almost complete 
separation of passion and intellect^ as though 
thought and emotion were each isolated in its own 
sphere through some violence of will-power. There 
is no nervousness in the nostrils^ and in the pale, 
thiny pointed hands. It would he inaccurate to 
call him picturesque. Picturesqueness cannot sur- 
^ vive the House of Commons. But Van Dyck would 
have liked to paint his head. 

Delightful as is such a description, it is marked 
by one fault to which attention must be clearly 
directed. The two indispensable obligations of the 
new technic are that stage descriptions and stage 
' directions must neither remind the reader of the 
Tjstage nor shatter the illusion of perfect objectivity 
by obtruding the personality of the author be- 
tween the reader and the dramatic characters. 
Unpardonable from the latter standpoint is the 
typical Oscarism : " Picturesqueness cannot sur^ 



\ 



THE PLAY AND THE READER 287 

vive the House of Commons." And Wilde fre- 
quently breaks the first rule as well by reminding 
the reader of the stage and its properties. 

The greatest master of the new technic is Ber- 
nard Shaw. As I pointed out at some length in his 
biography, Shaw has made a genuine contribution 
to the art of the drama, both critical aiid con- 
structive. It has been his aim to create not mere 
drama, but genuine literature. Through long and 
cloistral preoccupation with the science and art 
of dramatic representation, Ibsen developed in 
supreme degree his faculty of stereoscopic imag- ^ 
ination. Writing to the Reverend Christian 
Hostrup from Munich in 1888, he remarked: "I 
hardly ever go to the theater here, but I enjoy 
reading a play now and then in the evening ; and 
as I have a powerful imagination where anything 
dramatic is concerned, I can see everything that 
is really natural, authentic, and credible happen- 
ing before my eyes. The reading of the play pro- 
duces almost the same effect as its perform- 
ance." 

In the same way, through his experience as a 
constructive dramatist, and his career as a dra- — 
matic critic, Shaw learned the secret of effecting -. 
the complete visualization of the painted sets of 
the stage. In the construction of his plays he has 
ccMQstantly borne in mind the four factors in- 
volved: the author, the reader, the actor, and the -+- 



288 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

spectator. From the standpoint of the author, 
he has demonstrated by his practice that the bar 
to the publication of the contemporary drama is 
the repulsive stage jargon of the prompt book. 
From the standpoint of the reader he has demon- 
strated, as a modern " realist " basing his plays on 
a " scientific natural history," that the secret of 
making the modern play readable is to abandon 
" acts " and " scenes," and to endow the play with 
the finish and elaboration of the highest forms of 
contemporary realistic fiction. " Everything that 
{ the actor or the scene-painter shows to the audience 

, must be described — not . technically specified, but 
imaginatively, vividly, humorously, in a word, ar- 

( tistically described — to the reader by the author. 
In describing the scene, take just as much trouble 
to transport your reader's imagination as you 
would in a narrative. Your imaginary persons 
must not call ^ off the stage ' ; your guns must not 
be fired * behind the scenes ' ; you must not tell the 
public that * part of the stage is removed to repre- 
sent the entrance to a cellar.' It will often strain 
your ingenuity to describe a scene so that, though a 
stage manager can set it from the printed descrip- 
tion, yet not a word is let slip that could remind 
the reader of the footlights. But it can be done ; 
and the reward for the trouble is that people can 
read your plays — even actor-managers, who suf- 
fer just as much from the deadening, disillusion- 



THE PLAY AND THE READER 239 

izing, vulgarizing effect of the old-fashioned stage 
direction as other people do." 

The most awkward barrier to the success of the 
work of a dramatic craftsman is the actor. How 
and when shall the author assure himself that his 
intentions shall be adequately expressed by the 
histrionic interpreter? Benedetto Croce has 
pointed out, in his Aesthetic, that in order to be 
the true critic — ^that is to say, the true interpre- 
ter — one must rise to the level of the creator, and 
in that moment identify oneself rvith the creator. 
So the actor, in order to interpret the designs of 
the dramatist, must rise to the level of the dram- ^ 
atist and for the moment effect the esthetic iden- 
tification. Many of Ibsen's plays on their first 
and early stage representations must have been 
most inadequately acted. The stage directions 
were insufficiently detailed to break through the 
mechanical traditions of " character acting." 
Even when Ibsen himself directed the rehearsals 
he was incapable of securing from the players the 
effects he sought. As Strindberg once remarked: 
" I have heard that Norway's greatest dramatist 
at rehearsal wrote down his directions on paper, 
but that not a single one was ever followed." In 
speaking of his personal experience as dramatist- 
producer, Strindberg confesses that he has often 
seen an actor give an interpretation of a role 
quite different from his own conception of the 



240 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

character. " In case the interpretation was con- 
sistently worked out I made no alterations in it, 
but let the actor alone. It is better for him to 
carry out his conception of the character, as he 
has thought it out for himself, than for me to 
shatter his creation, which has both unity and 
consistency." I have in mind several instances in 
which, according to his own confession, Mr. Shaw 
followed a precisely similar course — this, too, 
despite the elaborate exposition of scenic and char- 
acter description, of details of interpretative act- 
ing, which his method supplies. 

In a large sense, the new technic is a sort of 

\" Acting Made JElasy "; for the dramatist, out of 
his own imagination, furnishes an infinitude of in- 
finitesimal, but essential, details for the infonna- 

*. tion of the interpreter. Did the dramatist, the 
first cause and final arbiter, not supply this wealth 
of detail, the actor would be obliged to supply it 
himself. There can be no doubt that, in such an 
event, the actor would supply it — and supply it 
wrong. "There is the actor (who is nowadays 
the manager also)," observes Mr. Shaw, "an ex- 
ceptionally susceptible, imaginative, fastidious 
person, easily put out by the slightest incongruity, 
easily possessed by the slightest suggestion. His 
work is so peculiar and important; its delicacy 
depends so much on the extent to which a play can 
be made real to him and the technical conditicms 



THE PLAY AND THE READER 241 

reduced to unnoticed matters of habit ; above all, 
it is so necessary to his self-respect that the obliga- 
tion he is under to make himself a means to the 
author's end should not be made an excuse 
for disregarding his dignity as a man, that an 
author can hardly be too careful to cherish the 
actor's illusion and respect his right to be ap- 
preached as a professional man and noWnerel^L^ 
ordered to do this or that without knowing 
why." 

Shaw is essentially a sociologist, f His scenic ^^ 
descriptions are not mere specifications of fur- =- 
niture and scenery. They are actually essays .»^ 
in social criticism. In like manner his descriptions 
of characters are little vignettes of social as well 
as individual psychology. His stage directions are 
designed to enlighten the reader, and to assist the 
actor in the task of interpreting character. All 
this is quite as it should be. The description of 
the dentist's operating room in You Never Can 
TeUy for example, or of Ramsden's study in Man -^^^ 
and Superman, is at once an epitome and an ar- 
raignment of a social era. A phase of ethical or 
industrial evolution is compressed into an artistic 
snapshot of a parlor. Perhaps no more satisfac- 
tory illustration of Shaw's method, of scenic and 
character description combined, is to be found in 
his plays than the opening of The Devil's Disciple: — 



242 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

'At the most wretched hour between a hlacJc 
night and a wintry morning in the year 1777 
Mrs. Dudgeon, of New Hampshire, is sitting up 
in the kitchen and general dweUing-room of her 
farwrhouse on the outskirts of the town of Weh^ 
sterbridge. She is not a prepossessing woman. No 
woman, looks her best after sitting up aU night; 
and Mrs. Dudgeon^s face, even at its best, is grimly 
trenched by the channels into which the barren 
forms and observances of a dead Puritanism can 
pen a bitter temper and a fierce pride. She is an 
elderly matron who has worked hard, and got 
nothing by it except dominion and detestation in 
her sordid home, and an unquestioned reputation 
for piety and respectability among her neigh- 
bors, to whom drink and debauchery are stUl so 
much more tempting than religion and rectitude 
that they conceive goodness simply as self-denial. 
This conception is easily extended to others-denied, 
and finally generalized as covering anything dis- 
agreeable. So Mrs. Dudgeon, being exceedingly 
disagreeable, is held to be exceedingly good. Short 
of flat felony, she enjoys complete license ex- 
cept for amiable weaknesses of any sort, and 
is, consequently, without knowing it, the most 
licentious woman in the parish on the strength 
of never having broken the seventh command- 
ment or missed a Sunday at the Presbyterian 
church. 



THE PLAY AND THE READER 243 

The year 1777 is the one in which the passions 
roused by the breaJeing-off of the American colo- 
nies from England^ more by their own weight than 
their own will, boiled up to shooting point, the 
shooting being idealized to the English mind as 
suppression of rebellion and maintenance of Brit- 
ish dominion, and to the American as defense of 
liberty, resistance to tyranny, and self-sacrifice on 
the altar of the Rights of Man. Into the merits of 
these idealizations it is not here necessary to inh 
quire; suffice it to say, without prejudice, that 
they have convinced both Americans and English 
that the most high-minded course for them to pur- 
sue is for them to kiU as ma/ny of one another as 
possible, and that military operations to that end 
are in full swing, morally supported by confident 
requests from the clergy of both sides for the 
blessing of God on their arms. 

Under such circumstances many other women 
besides this disagreeable Mrs. Dudgeon find themr 
selves sitting up all night waiting for news. Like 
her, too, they fall asleep towards morning, at the 
risk of nodding themselves into the kitchen fire. 
Mrs. Dudgeon sleeps with a shawl over her head, 
and her feet on a broad fender of iron laths, the 
step of the domestic altar of the fire-place, with 
its huge hobs and boiler, and its hinged arm above 
the smoky mantel-shelf for roasting. The plain 
kitchen table is opposite the fire at her elbow, with 



244 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

a ccmdle on it in a tin sconce. Her chair^ like aU 
the others in the room^ is uncushioned and unr 
painted; but^ as it has a round railed ba^k and a 
seat conventionally molded to the sitter^s curves^ 
it iSf comparatively^ a chair of state. The room 
has three doors^ one on the same side as the fire- 
place^ near the corner, leading to the best bed- 
room; one, at the opposite end of the opposite 
wall, leading to the scullery and washhouse; and 
the house door, with its latch, heavy lock, a/nd 
clumpy wooden bar, in the front wall, between the 
window in its middle, and the corner next the bed^ 
room door. Between the door and the window a 
rack of pegs suggests to the deductive observer 
that the men of the house are all away, as there 
are no hats or coats on them. On the other side 
of the window the clock hangs on a nail, with its 
white wooden dial, black iron weights, and brass 
pendulum. Between the clock and the corner a big 
cupboard, locked, stands on a dwarf dresser full 
of common crockery. 

On the side opposite the fire-place, between the 
door and the comer, a shamelessly ugly black 
horsehair sofa stands against the wall. An inr 
spection of its stridulous surface shows that Mrs. 
Dudgeon is not alone. A girl of sixteen or seven- 
teen has fallen asleep on it. She is a wild, timid- 
looking creature with black hair and tanned skin. 
Her frock, a scanty garment, is rent, weather- 



JHE PIAY AND THE READER 246 

stainedy herrtf-stained, and by no means scrupw- 
lonsly clean. It hangs on her with a freedom which^ 
taken with her brown legs and bare feety suggests 
no great stock of vMder clothing. 

Suddenly there comes a rapping at the door^ not 
loud enough to wake the sleepers. Then knocking 
which disturbs Mrs. Dudgeon a little. Finally the 
latch is tried, whereupon she springs up at once. 

Excellent illustrations of stage directions, solely 
designed for the purpose of assisting the reader 
in understanding the situation, the actor in in- 
terpreting the role, are found in this same play: 

(JunrrH smiles, implying ** How stupid of 
me "/) 

BuBGOYNE. (To Dudgeon) "By the way, 
since you are not Mr. Anderson, do we still, 
- — eh. Major Swindon? ** (Meaning, " do we still 
hang him? **) 

It is regrettable, in view of Shaw's admir- 
able effort to achieve a new form of technic, that 
he has fallen into one unpardonable error. A cer- 
tain piquancy in the reading, perhaps, derives 
from Shaw's practice of speaking, in his descrip- 
tions, in his own person. Perhaps, too, a cer- 
tain laxity might be granted in comedy which 
would be forbidden in the serious drama. But to 



«4e THE CHANGING DRAMA 

the dramatist, realistic in spirit, who avowedly 
founds his characters on a "genuinely scientific 
natural history,'* there is no legitimate excuse for 
obtruding the refractory lens of his own tempera- 
ment between the reader and the characters of the 
drama. In The Devil's Disciple Shaw appeals to 
history thus: 

(". . . Mrs. Dudgeon^ now an intruder in Iter 
own home, stands erect, crushed hy the weight of 
the law on women. — For at this time, remenAer, 
Mary WoUstonecraft is as yet only a girl of 
eighteen, and her Vindication of the Rights of 
Women is stiU fourteen years off.**) 

The single word, " remember," conjures up the 
figure of the social philosopher, Shaw, lecturing 
to us with critical forefinger upraised. It is the 
outworn method of the novelist, with his discur- 
sive moralizings addressed to the "Gentle Reader." 
In Man and Superman, a direct allusion to the 
drama itself, Shaw's besetting sin, is conspicuous : 

How old is RoehucJe! The question is important 
on the threshold of a drama of ideas; for under 
such circumstances every thing depends on whether 
his adolescence belonged to the sixties or to the 
eighties. 



THE PLAY AND THE READER 1847 

He {Mr. Robinson) must, one tJmkg, be the 
jeune premier; for it is not in reason to suppose 
that a second such attractive male figure should 
appear in one story. 

Numerous illustrations might be cited of this 
fault — that of importing into the contemporary- 
English drama that pleasing fault of pr^realistic 

English fiction: imperfect objectivity. The sub 

jective note is an intrusion in all truly realistic 
literature of narration. The aim of the new tech- i 
nic is to create a perfectly objective illusion for 
the picture-frame stage, imaginatively for the u 
reader as well as actually for the spectator. If the I 
dramatist is self-conggious his characters step out 
of the frame and shatter the illusion. The new 
dramatist, notably Shaw, has performed a genuine 
service to literature in making the reader forget 
that his characters are fictions of the stage ; but he 
sometimes cancels that service in destroying the 
illusion he has striven to create by reminding us , 
that these characters are merely the puppets of ' 
his own brain. 

The consequences which shall inevitably result 
from the practice of publishing plays in English- 
speaking countries are destined to be momentous 
and far-reaching. In the principal countries of 
Europe the publishing of plays is as much a busi- 
ness as the publishing of other forms of literature. 
Indeed, the drama is recognized in Europe as an 



1 



248 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

integral branch of literature, as legitimate a form 
of art expression as the novel, the short-story, or 
the sonnet. The consequence, of highest signifi- 
cance for English-speaking countries, of the pub- 
lishing of plays is the cultivation and creation of 
a trained body of theater-goers, rendered expert 

in the art and science of judiri^^S -P?*J-?.. t^-^'P^K^ 
reading them. From the modem standpoint, I 
venture to suggest that there is one new concep- 
tion of the ideal sp^jctcitor: the intelligent theater- 
goer who reads plays. The man or woman who ac- 
quires the habit of reading plays gradually de- 
velops considerable critical faculty in judging 
plays on their true merits, not only as literature, 
as " closet drama," but as drama designed for stage 
production. There is a gradual cultivation of the 
stereoscopic imagination, the faculty of visualiz- 
ing the dramatic production, which arises from a 
perusal of the printed play. The reader learns 
intuitively to put himself in the place of the dram- 
atist, to grasp the dramatic conception of the 
piece, and to analyze the emotional reactions in 
himself. He learns to test the validity and worth 
N of the sensations aroused in himself by the play, 
^ unconfused by the subconscious pressure of the 
i crowd-sense felt in the theater. Carried off his 
feet in the theater by a wave of sentiment induced 
by the collective consciousness, he may discover 
afterward, on perusal of the printed play, that 



THE PLAY AND THE READER 249 

theatrical effects attained in the playhouse stand 
revealed in the cold accusatory print as having 
been achieved by means essentially cheap and un- 
worthy. The reader acquires thus some modicum 
of the true critical and esthetic sense. After see- 
ing a piece in the theater he learns to ask himself, 
after the manner of Sainte-Beuve : " Was I right 
to be pleased? Could I have laughed here, ap- 
plauded there, wept real tears over such cheap 
manufactured pathos? To think that I should 
have been thrilled, moved, stirred by such patent 
tricks, such banal sentiment ! Never again ! ^ 
Thus comes about a gradual readjustment of 
standards, cultivation of the powers of imagina- 
tion, elevation of the criteria of criticism. The 
inanities of the fashionable society comedy, the 
gross improbabilities of melodrama, the artificial- 
ities of the machine-made piece after a time begin 
to pall upon, and to disgust, the cultivated reader 
of plays. 

Ultimately, the influence thus wrought upon the 
plfl-y'going public reacts in the most direct and 
beneficial way upon the drama itself. Such cul- 
tivated intelligences, such ideal spectators, reject 
in the theater itself plays which obviously do not 
measure up to the high standards inculcated in 
them by the reading of the best plays. A public 
thus enlightened becomes vastly more exigent than 
before in its demands for higher and higher forms 



V 



260 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

of dramatic art. This public thus comes in time 
to embody a species of collective criticism. The 
dramatist and the actor, as a direct consequence 
of the enlightenment of the public by the highest 
types of dramatic art, react to this new pressure, 
and are forced to higher standards of craftsman- 
ship and dramaturgy. No longer will the dram- 
atist be able to " hide a poverty of ideas behind 
the riches of theatrical production, or sterility of 
imagination behind the stage carpenter, or defec- 
tive characterization behind the resourceful genius 
of the actor." No longer will the actor be able 
to substitute flashy characterization for the tem- 
peramental personality projected by the dram- 
atist, or to obscure the author's intent through 
specious histrionic tricks. The dramatist is ulti- 
mately forced toward impeccable technic, deeper 
characterization, greater consistency of ideas, 
more authentic emotional denotement. The actor 
is ultimately forced towards more adequate im- 
personation, greater naturalness, superior forms 
of characterization and interpretation. TfauS-ibe 
mutual action and interaction between the en- 
lightened public, on the one hand, the dramatist, 
and incidentally, the player, on the other, tend 
toward the persistent elevation of the drama, the 
improvement of the art of acting, and the creation 
of a more intelligent, more critical, more cultivated 
play-going public. 



THE PLAY AND THE READER 261 

The works of the greater dramatists, both on 
the stage and in the study, create the very taste 
indispensable for the advancement of the arts of 
the drama and of the theater. And, in re- 
turn, the taste thus created forces the drama up 
to the standards set by the highest masters of 
the art. One of the greatest instriunentalities in 
achieving this progressive evolutional advance of 
the drama, with all its implications, is, and will 
more effectively be recj^nized to be, the ^ublica-j- 
tion of plays. 

-J ,n# 



IX 



THE NEW CONTENT 

''People imagine that actions and feelings are dictated 
by moral systems, by religious systems, by codes of honor 
and conventions of conduct which lie outside the real 
human will. . . . These conventions do not supply them 
with their motives. They make very plausible ex post 
facto excuses for their conduct; but the real motives are 
deep down in the will itself. And so an infinite comedy 
arises in everyday life between the real motives and the 
alleged artificial motives." — ^Bebnabd Shaw. 

The contemporary era reveals epochal changes 
in the form of the drama. Along with the evolu- 
t ion in f orm h as proceeded a no less remarkable 
evolution of subject-matter and content. With 
the new times have come new ideas, new manners, 
and, above all, new morals. The actual subject- 
matter of the drama, a true function of civiliza- 
tion, has taken the very hue and tone of the age 
in which we live. The modem era, with its level- 
ing democracy, its social accent, its preoccupa- 
tion with the affairs of the average man, its dis- 
covery of the miracle of the commonplace, has 
ushered into the drama an entirely new range of 
subjects. The stage, as About aptly puts it, is 
" a magnifying mirror, in which are reflected the 

258 



264 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

passions, the vices, the follies of each epoch.*' In 
a deeper sense, the drama is not only the mirror 
which reflects : it is itself the image of the time, of 
the philosophical, social, political, and religious 
aspirations of the epoch. 
f The era of democracy demands the drama in 
which every-day life shall be universally accepted 
as the normal dramatic material. If we glance 
back at the historical evolution of the modem 
types of both comedy and tragedy, we shall dis* 
cover once again the dead hand of Aristotle re- 
tarding the free experimental evolution of the 
drama. In the Middle Ages, tragedy was re* 
stricted to the lives and careers of princes; and 
when, in the sixteenth century, Aristotle's Poetics 
first began to exert an important influence in 
English literature, the mediseval restriction was 
only further re-inforced. Tragedy, according 
to Aristotle, is the imitation of a serious 
action; and this dictum was freely interpreted 
to apply not only to treatment but to subject- 
matter. An action, in this view, could only 
mean one dealing with the illustrious; and th^ 
illustrious, before the days of democracy, could 
only mean those of exalted social rank. The 
personages and events treated were wholly 
aristocratic in character; nobility of char- 
acter was identified — or rather, confused — ^with 
nobility of rank. Great events were universally 



THE NEW CONTENT 266 

associated with personages of high station. 
" Tragedy," as Futtenham quaintly phrased it, 
" deals with doleful falls of unfortunate and af- 
flicted princes, for the purpose of reminding men 
of the mutability of fortune and of God's just 
punishment of a vicious life." 

Though Lessing may have felt that OtheUo, 
Timoriy and Romeo and Juliet marked the transi- 
tion in England in the direction of treatment of 
the bourgeois, modem criticism has made it abun- 
dantly clear that Shakespeare had neither sym- 
pathy for popular rights nor any adequate com- 
prehension of republicanism. It is quite true that 
Shakespeare frequently satirizes courtiers and 
mocks at the trappings of royalty ; but at bottom 
he was thoroughly aristocratic in his sjrmpathies. 
The fact that the vast majority of the characters 
in Shakespeare's plays belong to the aristocracy 
or to the leisured classes speaks for itself. And 
the presiunption that Shakespeare was only a 
conscientious realist in his ruthless depiction of 
the common people does not suffice to explain 
away his patent distaste for democracy and his 
lack of sympathy for the democrat. In Whitman's 
view, Shakespeare was pre-eminently the poet of 
courts and princes. Brandes acutely analyzes 
Shakespeare's attitude in the misrepresentation of 
the cause of Jack Cade, the memorable omission of 
the granting of Magna Charta, which history to- 



266 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

day pronounces the most significant historical 
event of King John's reign, and the distortion 
of the ideas of popular liberty in the Roman plays. 
The late Ernest Crosby ably demonstrated Shake- 
speare's contemptuous indifi^erence toward the 
feelings and aspirations of the middle classes. The 
true transit of popular idealism is found first in 
George Lillo's George Barnwell^ or the London 
Merchant (1713), a momentous departure which 
left its direct impress upon European, notably 
French and German, drama in the eighteenth cen- 
tury. The clue to the predominant influence of 
the bourgeois drama of to-day, from Ibsen and 
Bjomson to Galsworthy and Shaw, is found in 
the prophetic words of Lillo in his dedication to 
The London Merchant: "What I would infer is 
this, I think, evident truth ; that tragedy is so far 
from losing its dignity, by being accommodated to 
the circumstances of the generality of mankind, 
that it is more truly august in proportion to the 
extent of its influence, and the numbers that are 
properly affected by it. As it is more truly great 
to be the instrument of good to many, who stand 
in need of our assistance, than to a very small part 
of that number." This new type of drama, which 
found its forerunners in The Yorkshire Tragedy 
and The London Prodigal, soon gained adherents 
on the Continent among working dramatists im- 
pressed by the fecundity underlying the concep- 



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THE NEW CONTENT 267 

tion of what Groldsmith contemptuously described a 
as ^^ tradesmen's tragedies./^ In Germany, Les- 
sing modeled his Miss Sara Sampson (1755) di- 
rectly on Lillo's type form of the domestic trag- 
edy ; whilst in France Diderot, stimulated by Lil- 
lo's " tale of private woe," brought out in rapid 
succession his Le FUs Naturel (.1757) and Le Fire 
de FamiUe (1768). The influence upon Euro- 
pean literature was bifurcative. In France the 
national genius found characteristic expression in 
domestic comedy, and the sentimental or larmoyaAt 
comedy, of Diderot, Sedaine, Mercier, and Beau- 
marchais. In Germany, Schiller followed the new 
path of domestic tragedy in Kabale und Liebe 
(1784), only later to prove recusant; but the suc- 
cess of Iffland and the tremendous popularity of 
Kotzebue, mechanical and cheap as were their melo- 
dramatic exploitations of domestic themes, gave 
continued vogue to the type, in England as well as 
in Europe. 

So momentous and so universal has been the in- - 
fluence of the democratic spirit in the drama, so 
intimately is the development of the contemporary 
drama implicated in the evolution of contempo- 
rary democracy, that a somewhat closer survey 
of the drama of France and Germany of the eight- 
eenth century will reveal the fruitful germs which 
fertilized the dramatic spirit and temper of to- 
day. In the France of the eighteenth century — 



/-^ 



268 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

familiar invocation ! — the aristocracy steadily 
lost ground, while the bourgeoisie, the third estate, 
as steadily encroached upon this ground, gaining 
thereby a new class-consciousness, a sharply 
quickened sense of social rights. Voltaire, a pro- 
nounced opponent of bourgeois tragedy, was a 
true descendant of Moli^re in advocating the de- 
sirability of making honest folks laugh. The lar- 
moyant comedy, which Voltaire found so admir- 
able, begins with no true recognition of class-con- 
sciousness. It was restricted to the sentiments 
and passions of contemporary life, less violent and 
excessive than those of classic tragedy because 
conformed to modern civilization through the nor- 
malizing influences of education and soctal custom. 
As neatly put by Riccoboni, there are persons of 
respectable, even gentle birth not lofty enough in 
station to wear the cothurnus of the tragic hero, 
but too lofty to enter into the domestic situations 
traditionally limited to comedy; and it was these 
persons who furnished the material for the new 
dramatic type, partaking of the interest of trag- 
edy, yet preserving the character of comedy and 
dealing with the situations of domestic and civil 
life. With the iconoclastic spirit worthy of a 
Barker or a Shaw, Diderot declared that nothing 
which happened in real life might not be shown 
on the stage! It is not wholly to be regretted 
that his practice failed to fulfil the alarming 



THE NEW CONTENT 269 

promise advanced in his theory. For Diderot 
really wrote, not the true drama of middle-class 
concern, but more or less artiiScial studies of 
certain social conditions and of people of a 
certain social standing. The outcome of his 
drama is not the inevitable consequence of its 
own social data, but a " solution '' dexterously 
devised by the author. In a very genuine 
sense, however, Diderot was the father of mod-'| 
em realism; for he explicitly maintained in 
so many words that the drama of the future must 
abjure the pompous, stylicized language of verse 
and utilize the supple, natural prose of every-day 
life. He pay be said to have anticipated Ibsen 
in aiming to create the perfect illusion of reality, 
so that the spectator would feel that he was him- 
self not only a spectator, but actually a partici- 
pant in the dramatic action. 

Mercier went a step further than Diderot as an 
exponent of middle-class drama, exhibiting the 
bourgeoisie in one characteristic and fundamen- 
tal aspect, viz. as an industrial class. While Mer- 
cier advances beyond Diderot, in reflecting the 
deepened sense of middle-class consciousness, he 
nevertheless fails in his dramas to exhibit social 
forces as the controlling factors in the action. It 
was a grave error to write dramas which did not 
truly reflect actual conditions, but served prin- 
cipally as justifications, vindications of the social 



«60 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

ideals of the bourgeoisie. The creator of the bour- 
geois drama in France is Sedaine; and his Le 
PhUosophe sans le Savoir portrays artificial so- 
cial convention in mortal conflict with instinctive 
human feeling. With all his imperfections as a 
dramatist, Sedaine is the forerunner of the social 
dramatist of to-day, who paints the true conflict 
of modem life as the struggle of humanity against 
the hampering restrictions of convention and the 
oppressive influence of institutionalism. 

The France of the eighteenth century was aris- 
tocratic and absolutist; and literature served but 
as a reflection of the spirit of the age. For de- 
spite the rising of the tide of democracy, art re- 
mained aristocratic in tone ; and France continued 
to regard herself as the aristocrat of Europecui 
literature and so, obligated to conserve the classic 
esthetic standards of decorimi, of form, of taste. 
In Germany, on the other hand, the spirit of na- 
tional culture was essentially democratic in its 
aspiration. The bourgeoisie gradually organized 
itself into a compact body of democratic tenden- 
cies, with a consequent development of the spirit 
of class-consciousness and the sentiment of com- 
mon aims. The repression of the individual, ex- 
ercised by the numerous petty courts of soi-discmt 
kingdoms, aroused to revolt the mass-conscious- 
ness of the people, and gradually evoked clamant 
eixpression of the spirit of the modem era. A re- 



THE NEW CONTENT «61 

generative spirit, the active moral sympathy im- 
plicit in Lessing^s Miss Sara Sampson, sank deep 
into the hearts of the people. For herein they 
recognized the epitome of their own awakening, 
not yet wholly aroused, class-consciousness. It 
deserves to rank, on this score, as the first Grerman 
drama fundamentally social in character. The 
true herald of Ibsen and the modem school is, 
however, not Lessing, but Hebbel, the author of 
the "little family picture," as he entitled it, 
Maria Magdalena.. Indeed Ibsen once expressed 
his astonishment over the noteworthy recognition 
of his own dramas in Germany, a country in which 
Friedrich Hebbel had preceded him. Yet after 
all, it is not so strange — since HebbePs ilfflrwtilfagr- 
dalenay for example, is much too restricted in its 
field to constitute an image of modern society. It 
is just as well that Hebbel soon abandoned bour- 
geois tragedy; for he labored under the strange 
delusion that the limitations and restrictions 
peculiar to the narrowing conditions of middle- 
class life give rise, not to the tragic, but only to 
the pathetic. He maintained that the bourgeois 
type must be studied from within in order to em- 
phasize the unique and particular characteristics 
of middle-class life: "the rigid exclusiveness with 
which the individuals, wholly incapable of dialec- 
tics, stand opposed to one another in the restricted 



262 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

sphere, and their consequent horrible enslavement 
to an existence of arrested development." To- 
day, we acknowledge that it is to the lower classes, 
rather than to the middle classes, that Hebbel's 
dictum is truly pertinent. 

It was reserved for the contemporary natural- 
ists, Hauptmann and his successors, to realize the 
tragedy of middle-class and lower-class life par- 
tially envisaged by Hebbel. I know no more just 
epitome of Hebbel's words, above quoted, than 
Hauptmann's Fuhrmann Henschel. And I am in- 
clined to think that Spitta's dramaturgic code, as 
reflected in the diatribe of Hassenreuter in Haupt- 
mann's Die Ratten, sums up in briefest compass 
the spirit of contemporary dramaturgy: 

Hasseneeuter. 

"You deny the whole art of elocution, the 
value of the voice in acting! You want to sub- 
stitute for both the art of toneless speaking! 
Further you deny the importance of action in the 
drama and assert it to be a worthless accident, a 
sop for the groundlings! You deny the validity 
of poetic justice, of guilt and its necessary expia- 
tion. You call all that a vulgar invention — an 
assertion by means of which the whole moral order 
of the world is abrogated by the learned and 
crooked understanding of your single magnificent 
self! Of the heights of humanity you know 



THE NEW CONTENT 268 

nothing! You asserted the other day that, in 
certain circumstances, a barber or a scrubwoman 
might as fittingly be the protagonist of a tragedy 
as Lady Macbeth or King Lear! 

Spitta. 

{StiU pale, polishing his spectacles.) Before art 
as before the law all men are equal, sir. 

It was Ibsen and Bjornson who first made true 
tragedies of middle-class life — the tragedies of the 
" barber and the scrubwoman,'* the doctor and the 
photographer, the banker and the politician. 
Then for the first time in history the bourgeois 
drama began to present a serious study of the in- 
dividual as citizen, bound in a league of com- 
mon interest with his fellows and of true obliga- 
tions to society. The rise of the bourgeois drama i 
in the nineteenth century marks the true trans- I 
valuation in modem social philosophy. The com- 
mon weal became the new social standard of valua- 
tion. It was not types as types, or classes as 
classes, that Ibsen treated: he studied individuals 
as corporate exponents of contemporary ideas. 
Ibsen's genuine social significance inheres in his 
practice of studying middle-class society on its 
own plane, but in terms of the highest thought, 
the deepest consciousness, of our epoch. He vital- 
ized thought into action; impersonated social 
thought in humanity. Von Sonnenfels once said, 



264 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

in speaking of this democratization of the the- 
ater, that whereas lofty classic tragedy concerns 
itself with the interests of a ccnnparatively limited 
class, numerically, the middle-class tragedy con- 
cerns itself with the interests of the entire human 
race. Ibsen subtilized the topical into the eternal, 
the specific into the universal. 

The contemporary drama of middle-class exist- 
ence, to employ a happy phrase of George Eliot's, 
is nothing more than a ^^ scene from private life." 
Ibsen's Little Eyolf has always seamed to me to be 
a typical specimen of the modem domestic play, 
exposing the ^^ skeleton in the closet " and de- 
nuding the ^^ secrets of the alcove." Admirable 
illustrations of the bourgeois drama, by dramatists 
of different nationalities, are: the masterpiece of 
Sudermann, Heimat, the very title of which sug- 
gests the domestic scene ; Giacosa's Come le FogUe, 
that subtle analysis of the moral enervation con- 
sequent upon the irresponsible possession of un- 
earned wealth; Barker's detailed and microscopic 
study of an English family. The Voysey Inr 
heritcmce. It cannot be doubted that the influence 
of the first truly realistic novels, dealing with 
the aiFairs of people quite commonplace in 
every respect, save that of human interest 
and passion, gradually made itself felt in the 
domain of the drama. The author of Pamela 
and Clarissd Harlowe was a virtual contem- 



THE NEW CONTENT 265 

porary of the author of George Barnwell, or 
the London Merchant. And whilst Lillo ex- 
erted a powerful direct influence upon the drama, 
Richardson with his pedestrian realism and middle- 
class preoccupations exercised upon modem drama 
an indirect influence well-nigh as powerful, though 
far less immediate and obvious. Here were all 
the marks of the contemporary drama as we know 
it, though blurred by the meticulous elaboration 
of Richardson, the boisterous vulgarity of Field- 
ing, the sentimental confessional of Rousseau. 
These works of realistic fiction deal with ordinary 
people concerned in the affairs of ordinary daily 
life ; they are devoted to a faithful representation, 
without romantic sophistication or idealization, 
of the actualities of life and character ; and their 
chief interest consists in a minute analysis of char- 
acter, delineation of motive, and reflection of the 
secret springs of the actions of the average human 
being. These are the conspicuous and character- 
istic features of the middle-class drama of our own 
time. To-day, that "literature of the center," 
of which Matthew Arnold spoke, seems to be yield- 
ing place more and more to what may be termed 
the literature of the circumference. The charge 
triumphantly urged against Ibsen by the "old 
guard" in literature was that he is provincial, 
parochial, suburban; that he deals with ordinary 
common people in average daily life ; that he has 



266 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

definitively doffed the purple pall of tragedy. In 
this assertion inheres the secret of Ibsen's dis- 
tinction, the note of his social dramas of modem 
life. As Bernard Shaw effectively says: "Sub- 
urbanity at present means modem civilization. 
The active, germinating life in the households of 
to-day cannot be typified by an aristocratic hero, 
an ingenuous heroine, a gentleman forger abetted 
by an Artful Dodger, and a parlor maid who takes 
half-sovereigns and kisses from the male visitors. 
Such interiors exist on the stage and nowhere 
else. . . . But if you ask me where you can 
find the Helmer household, the Allmers house- 
hold, the Solness household, the Rosmer house- 
hold, and all the other Ibsen households, I reply, 
* Jump out of a train anywhere between Wimble- 
don and Haslemere, walk into the first villa you 
come to, and there you are. . . ; This subur- 
ban life, except in so far as it is totally vegetable 
and undramatic, is the life depicted by Ibsen. 
Doubtless some of our critics are quite sincere in 
thinking it a vulgar life, in considering the con- 
versations which men hold with their wives in it 
improper, in finding its psychology puzzling and 
unfamiliar, and in forgetting that its bookshelves 
and its music cabinets are laden with works which 
did not exist for them, and which are the daily 
bread of young women educated very differently 
from the sisters and wives of their day. No won- 



THE NEW CONTENT 267 

der they are not at ease in an atmosphere of ideas 
and assumptions and attitudes which seem to them 
bewildering, morbid, affected, extravagant, and 
altogether incredible as the common currency of 
suburban life. But Ibsen knows better. His sub- 
urban drama is the inevitable outcome of a subur- 
ban civilization (meaning a civilization that ap- 
preciates fresh air) : and the true explanation of 
Hedda Gabler's vogue is that given by Mr. Grant 
Allen : ^ I take her in to dinner twice a week.' " 

The drama typical of our day and time is bour- 
geois in character, dealing with the thoughts and 
passions, the loves and hates, the comedies and 
tragedies, of the sort of people we meet every day 
on the street. They are people with like passions 
as ourselves, and the incidents of their lives are 
constantly being reproduced around us. The 
anecdotes and adventures which constitute the ma- 
terial of the earlier drama have lost their hold 
upon the modem world because they no longer 
furnish us that thrill of immediate actuality, that 
vital interest of contemporaneous circumstance, 
which live only in the atmosphere of to-day. 
Nowadays, we are given a species of family por- 
trait — the portrayal of a household or a restricted 
social set; and the primary demand is that the 
illusion of reality must never be sacrificed to the 
specious claims of mere theatrical effectiveness. 
The error in the earlier dramatic criticism lay in 



268 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

the assumption that daily normal life was stranded 
in the coil of the temporal Ibsen and Bjomson 
centered the vast interests of life, social sjm- 
pathy, individual passion, prenatalism and pre- 
destinaticm, in the restricted arena of domestic 
life. The following words of Maeterlinck, beauti- 
ful as they are, nevertheless suggest too quiescent 
and static a state : for even within a small room, 
chasms deeper than hell itself may yawn ; and the 
windows ever open out upon the celestial blue, 
radiant of eternal hope and mystic with the breath 
of infinity. ^^ Consider the drama that actually 
stands for the reality of our time, as Greek drama 
stood for Greek reality, and the drama of the 
Renaissance for the reality of the Renaissance. 
Its scene is a modem house ; it passes between men 
and women of to-day. The names of the invis- 
ible protagonists — the passions and ideas — are the 
same, more or less, as of old. We see love, hatred, 
ambition, jealousy, envy, greed; the sense of jus- 
tice and idea of duty: pity, goodness, devotion, 
piety, selfishness, vanity, pride, etc. But, al- 
though the names have remained more or less the 
same, how great is the difference we find in the 
aspect and quality, the extent and influence, of 
these ideal actors ! Of all their ancient weapons, 
not one is left them, not one of the marvelous 
moments of olden days. It is seldom that cries 
are heard now; bloodshed is rare, and tears not 



THE NEW CONTENT fm 

often seen. It is in a small room, round a table, 
close to the fire, that the joys and sorrows of man- 
kind are decided. We suffer or make others suffer ; 
we love, we die, there in our comer; and it were 
the strangest chance should a door or window sud- 
denly, for an instant, fly open beneath the pres- 
sure of extraordinary despair or rejoicing.'* 

Modem realism incisively tends to shatter the 
romantic cast of life. The most radical change, 
far-reaching and revolutionary, has come about 
as the direct consequence of the suburbanization 
of the drama. This I have chosen to describe as 
the degeneration of the hero. Perhaps it would 
be more contemporaneously accurate to say, the 
abolition of the hero. According to the critical 
canons of the past, the hero must be a personage 
of consideration, of distinction — " an ideal char- 
acter in an ideal situation," if I may be permitted 
to quote the ridiculous phrase. This was the doc- 
trine of centuries distinguished for dramatic 
criticism — the doctrine of Comeille, of D'Aubig- 
nac, of Racine, of Voltaire, of Dacier, of Sir 
Philip Sidney. In the elevated tragedies of the 
past, the hero is a personage above the law, i.e. 
he functions without the domain of prevailing so- 
cial and moral codes. It is not with institutions 
that he has to struggle : it is with destiny. This 
hero towers aloft upon a pedestal ; but that pedestal 
may rest upon the curved backs of oppressed hu- 



270 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

manlty. This ancient conception is an esthetic re- 
flection of the aristocratic regime ; for the classic 
hero {^^ noblesse oblige "!) owes allegiance only to 
his own class. In his world there is no democracy, 
since there is no sense of universal obligation to 
the community. 

To-day, in the light of the sociologic conception 
of society as an organism, a new transvaluation of 
individual and social values has transpired. Down 
to the nineteenth century — the age of Carlyle — the 
individual, the hero, was supposed to exert a pre- 
dominant influence in the creation and shaping of 
society. To-day — the age of Spencer — it is so- 
ciety which predetermines and restricts the de- 
velopment of the individual. Instead of the hero of 
the past finally conquering every foe, we have to- 
day the hero manquS^ struggling with foredoomed 
futility against the overwhelming pressure of en- 
vironment, the brand of heredity, the coil of cir- 
cumstance, the chains of character, the confining 
mold of society, the damning verdict of self-mock- 
ery and self-contempt. The protagonist in both 
novel and drama has stepped down from the 
pedestal of the colossal ; he has now ^^ lost the last 
gleam from the sunset of the heroes.'' " Down to 
the time of Dickens," says Gilbert Chesterton, 
**we have the first walking gentleman, the 
young man carrying with him a certain ances- 
tral light and atmosphere of legend. And, about 



/ 



THE NEW CONTENT «n 

the time of Dickens's later work, that light fades 
into the light of common day. The first great 
creation of the new manner in England is the char- 
acter of Arthur Pendennis. This is the young 
man lit from head to foot suddenly with the white 
light of realism, all the red lamps of legend being 
extinguished around him,*' 

In the drama of to-day, the leading male char- 
acter — it would be profoundly absurd to dignify 
him with the title of " hero " — is often little ele- 
vated above the level of the ccnnmonplace, and 
in many cases is little more or less than a fraud, 
an impostor, a bounder, a cad, an exemplar of the 
higher rascality or the new immorality. In the 
Dramatic Review (May 30, 1885), Wilde char- 
acteristically wrote : " Perfect heroes are the mon- 
sters of melodramas, and have no place in dramatic 
art. Life possibly contains them, but Parnassus 
often rejects what Peckham may welcome." A. 
vein of real prophecy, in anticipation of the Alia^ 
Jiwmy Valentine and Raffles of to-day, crops out 

S in his added remark : " I look forward to a reac- 

tion in favor of the cultured criminal." The 
moral predisposition of the contemporary dram- 

^ atist often makes the protagonist a ridiculous, 

a pitiable, or even a sinister figure, satirizing him- 
self by outraging the conscience of the spectator 
every time he does his " duty." In a profoimd 
sense, Hamlet is a foreshadowing of the protago- 



272 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

nisi of ultra-modern drama ; and in another gen- 
eration, perhaps, dissatisfaction with conventional 
morality, tempered by educational improvement 
in ethical standards, may give place to individual 
moral assertiveness and dignity in the domain af 
the new-heroic. Nora swings too far away from 
Helmer, Dr. Stockman from his brother Peter, 
Marchbanks from Morell, Tanner from Rams- 
den; the contrasts are, psychologically, almost 
grotesque. Obsessed by polemical intent and re- 
formatory zeal, the modem dramatist has charged 
his product with mordant comic and tragic irony. 
The rise of modern feminism has contributed in 
no small measure to demote man from his posi- 
tion of vaunted superiority as a heroic figure. 
Such plays as Mr. W. C. DeMille's The Woman 
and Mr. George Middleton's Nowadays give us 
a strong sense of the new domain of woman. .The 
protagonist in the contemporary drama has lost 
his poise through the violence of his reaction 
against social injustice ; or become a lay figure, the 
dialectic automaton for the expression of social 
theory. Always we tend to see man nowadays from 
the blasting point of view of the modem woman, 
catching ^^ glimpse after glimpse of himself from 
this point of view himself, as all men are beginning 
to do more or less now, the result, of course, being 
the most horrible dubiety on his part as to whether 
he is really a brave and chivalrous gentleman or 



THE NEW CONTENT «7» 

a humbug and a moral coward." Only in a highly 
developed society — a society where women are 
placed upon an equal footing with men, as Mere* 
dith puts it — can comedy of the highest type 
flourish. And if I were to venture a prophecy, I 
should predict that the drama of the twentieth cen- 
tury will exhibit two main streams of tendency. 
The one will present woman's struggle to efFect 
sane adjustments within her new and progressively 
enlarging freedom; the other will present man's 
struggle to realize his potentiality and limita- 
tion in the light of the newer social communism. 

And yet we must not forget, as Spitta said, that 
the great contribution of the new dramatist has 
been the demonstration that ^^ a barber or a scrub- 
woman could as fitly be the subject of tragedy 
as Lady Macbeth or King Lear." A great gulf 
has been fixed between aristocratic estheticism and 
democratic humanism. How antiquated sound the 
words of Courtney : " There may be tragedies in 
South Hampstead, although experience does not 
consistently testify to the fact ; but at all events, 
from the historic and traditional standpoint, 
tragedy is more likely to concern itself with 
Glamys Castle, Melrose Abbey, Carisbrook, or 
even with Carlton House Terrace." How anti- 
quated! — in face of Hauptmann's noble saying: 
•* Before art as before the law all men are equal." 

The hope for the individual hero of the drama 



274 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

of the future lies in the domain of moral psychol- 
ogy > — or shall we say, ethics ? In speaking of the 
protagonist of contemporary drama, the unsym- 
pathetic Courtney has observed : "Instead of 
being a nobleman, or at least distinguished, he has 
become merely bourgeois ; instead of knowing that 
whatever he suffers is accurately proportioned to 
his guilt, and that he is the victim of poetic jus- 
tice, he has become lost in mazes of indiscrimi- 
nate action, succeeding and failing, he knows not 
why, subject to the most marvelous coincidences, 
* a foiled, circuitous wanderer ' in an unreasonable 
world.'' The modem "hero" is a failure, as I 
see it, because he is frustrated on every hand by 
the savage irony of relentless fact — ^the insuffi- 
ciency of his moral code, the mockery of his intro- 
spection, the discrepancy between deductions and 
facts, callous popular indifference to social evil, 
the lethargy of civic conscience, the weakening of 
religious influence, the bankruptcy of theology, 
the consuming curse of materialism, the irresist- 
ible pressure of the biological and the social or- 
ganisms. Perhaps this degenerescence of mascu- 
line heroism partially serves to explain why it is 
that the truly heroic roles in contemporary drama 
are so often played by women. In drama, as in 
novel and short-story, we may well look happily 
forward with Chesterton to the future work of 
genius which shall project against a skyline of 



J 



THE NEW CONTENT 276 

infinity " a psychological Hercules," and " show 
us that there is potentially a rejection for every 
temptation, a mastery for every mischance, much 
as there is a parry for every stroke of the sword." 
Not only is the hero shorn of his ancient attfP 
butes, in modem drama; he is actually robbed of 
all the accessories which once went so far toward 
creating the illusion of heroism. The hero of 
romance accomplished miracles, performing im- 
possible and unheard-of deeds of skill and 
daring; and he always spoke in the language 
befitting his station and his achievements. He 
lived in a world of romance and of dreams; 
and man fled to the theater to breathe this 
intoxicating ozone for one brief hour, forget- 
ful of the cares of the morrow, oblivious of every 
reminder of the real world. And so, when the spec- 
tator was swept away to this airy dreamland 
upon the sea-coasts of Bohemian fancy, he reveled 
in the elevated, poetic, sublime speech of a race 
more heroic, more lofty, than the race of mortals. 
But to-day, suburban realism alas! has changed y 
all that. No longer do we " hear the Scythian ; 
Tamburlain threatening the world with high 
astounding terms." The protagonist of the 
modem drama is taken alive from the midst of 
modern life; his actions and his mode of expres- 
sion are alike tjrpical of this unromantic and un- 
heroic age in which we live. Yet, after all, where 



» 



SrrS THE CHANGING DRAMA 

is the man ^^ with soul so dead " as to deny the 
existence of true heroism in modem life, the age 
of Peary and Scott, of Orville and Wilbur Wright, 
of the Titamic disaster — and of the Carnegie Hero 
Medal? It would appear, at times, as if there 
were an economic and socialistic basis for the rise 
of the bourgeois drama. For is it not the captain 
of industry, the commercial colossus, often over- 
riding principles of justice and flouting the mech- 
anism of human laws, rather than any con- 
stitutional or despotic ruler, who is, if there be 
any, the "hero'* — ^i.e. the dominant, masterly 
protagonist in the drama of contemporary life? 
A Cecil Rhodes lived more vital. dramas than were 
devised by Ibsen or Bjomson — ^was a more im- 
perial expansionist, a more impressive personality, 
than perhaps any sovereign of his day. 

There will be a transvaluation of values, from 
time to time, which, I dare say, will eventuate in 
the successive re-handling of the heroes of classical 
antiquity, and in general, of the past. It is com- 
ing to be recognized that Mommsen and Ferrero 
have reconstituted ancient Rome and realized the 
Roman " hero " more accurately and more con- 
vincingly than did ever Shakespeare, or even Plu- 
tarch. Forbes-Robertson gently asks: "Why 
should the hero of classical antiquity always be 
thought of as strutting round with arm extended, 
indulging in bombastic rant and spouting a lot of 



THE NEW CONTENT 877 

blank verse? " Building upon the basis of vast and 
f ar*reaching historical researches, the future dram- 
atist promises to re-interpret the past, in real- 
istic treatment and in the prose form. The epic 
spirit is dead — slain by reality. The day of spec- 
tacular, heroic, external action seems to be wan- 
ing. The modem drama is marked by that creep- 
ing paralysis of external action of which Maeter- 
linck speaks. The interpreter of contemporary 
life has discovered that an emotion is as thrilling a 
dramatic theme as an action ; and that passion is 
as deep and vital in its repression as in its exhibi- 
tion. To-day, the protagonist is profoundly con- 
cehied with the importance of the trivial ; and his 
language — sometimes even his thought — ^barely 
suffices to elevate him above the mean level of the 
commonplace. The difference between the old epic 
poets and the modem realists is the whole dif- 
ference ^^ between an age that fought with dragons 
and an age that fights with microbes." ^^ 

If the dominant individuality has ceased, in 
great measure, to play his heroic, epic r61e in 
contemporary drama, there is a sense in which the 
**hero" may be said to survive. The typical 
bourgeois drama of to-day, the forerunner of 
countless others cut after the same pattern, is 
Ibsen's An Enemy of the People. Back of Stock- 
mann seems to loom a vast impersonal force, the 
consciousness of social obligation. We live to- 





278 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

day in an era of social democracy. It is no 
longer the individual, but the social forces that 
he represents, which constitute the dominant influ- 
ence in the higher dramas of our time. Ibsen, 
Bjornson, Brieux, Hauptmann, Gorky, Shaw 
V ' '- '' ^ have accustomed us to the notion that mass-con- 

sciousness, rather than individuality, is the moist 
impressive, and most pervasive, influence of our 
time.. The "hero*' of Die Weber is no single 
artisan, but the spirit of the laborers' strike — the 
dread cloud of want darkening the face of the 
sun. Social altruism strikes the pitch of Little 
Eyolf; the true protagonist oi A DolVs HotMe 
is modem marriage; the garish, futile hopeless- 
ness of the submerged tenth leers at us from 
The Night Shelter. The spirit of the Celtic race, 
the tragedy of fettered nationalism, speaks in 
Sibylline tones from John BulVa Other Island; not 
Broadbent and Doyle, but England and Ireland, 
are protagonist and antagonist in the death- 
struggle of nations. The cosmic "villain" of 
MatemitS, of Mrs. Warren's Profession, is not 
a personality, but a force — the social evil. The 
drama of to-day reflects the social consciousness 
of the epoch of Rousseau, of Karl Marx, of So- 
cialism. Society has ceased to take itself for 
granted; all our efforts, consciously or uncon- 
sciously, are aimed at social amelioration, social 
regeneration. The artist of the past gave the 



THE NEW CONTENT «79 

name of the hero to his artistic creation — Ivanr 
hoej or WcHleTiatem. Under the influence of the 
same motive, the modern artist names his artistic / 
creation after its hero — FiconditS^ or Justice.' 
Adverting to the absence of any individual hero in 
his Sebastopol, Tolstoy significantly insists : " But 
the hero of my story whom I love with all the 
powers of my soul, whom I have striven to repro- 
duce in all his beauty, and who always has been, 
is, and will be beautiful, is Truth,'' At the end 
of Ibsen's Pillars of Society, the spirit of truth 
and freedom is pronounced the true hero of the 
drama. The dread of death and the unknown 
which it veils is the " dominant " in the dark 
dramas of Andreyev. In Peer Gynt, Ibsen has 
given us for hero the imiversal man, in search of 
his own soul. In Faust j Goethe offers to the world 
a hero who is nothing less than all humanity. 

In still another sense, there is a reason for the 
degeneration of the individual heroic role. Jlie 
temper of modem art is atmospheric. The 
modem drama Fas begun to assume many of 
the aspects of the dramatized short-story. The 
prime requisite of the short-story is economy of 
means in the achievement of a predetermined ef- 
fect. All the narrative lines are concurrent, not 
parallel: the interest is at once cumulative and 
convergent. Not action, not character, is the 
primary consideration: the predominant issue is 



S80 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

the creation of a certain mood, a unity of im- 
pression, or as Poe phrased it, a ^^ totality of ef- 
fect." In dramas, similar in tone to the short- 
story, there is no individual hero— since a hero 
implies at once overtopping dominance of either 
character or action, or both. The real " hero " 
or predominant influence of the drama may be an 
impersonal, intangible force or emanation, cast- 
ing over the whole scene the glamour of its in- 
fluence or darkening the picture with the shadow 
of its sable wings. In characteristic no-plot 
dramas of the Maeterlinck of the earlier matter, 
there is no hero, no dominant per3onality; for 
behind all the mimic show of the material there 
lurk the forces which are immaterial and super- 
sensiUe. In both Ulntruse and Ulntirieure, 
which are really treatments of the same theme 
viewed from without and within, the hero is Death. 
In S trindber^^s remarkable play, Wetlj^TleucJ^tm . 
thfjjy titk 9f tht piftrr ipf>i£;gj; es that the real 
" hero '* is no personalit j,^, Jmi *the . electnpally 
charged atmngphare- -<»f^ utmnr; The healing pity, 
the saving grace of true Christianity might be 
termed the protagonist of Hauptmann's Hannele. 
Not Uncle Vanya, but the monotony of despair is 
the **hero" of Tchekhov's remarkable play of 
that name. Without pressing the point, it suf- 
fices to point out that there is no question here of 
confusing the predominant force of a drama with 



'^vm 



THE NEW CONTENT «81 

its mere setting or local color. Indeed, the 
modem craftsman has demonstrated the really 
new principle that atmosphere, mood, Stimmvmg, 
may actually constitute the essential feature, the 
predominant influence in a drama— may indeed 
constitute the drama. The short-story, and even 
the novel exhibit this modem cast of thought 
and esthetic temper, no less signally than the 
drama, especially the one-act play or the play of 
intensive treatment, designed for the intimate the- 
ater. In Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher^ 
in Kipling's They and An Habitation Enforced, 
the setting is the protagonist, the leading mo- 
tive — ^beside which all else pales. 

The new spirit of disillusionment in modem 
thought, the spirit which abolishes the individual 
hero, discards verse as a medium, and displaces 
romance in favor of a " scientific natural history," 
has markedly affected that ancient principle of 
the drama, sovereign throughout many centuries, 
the principle of poetic justice. This time, as is 
quite natural, we must go to the ethicist, Plato, 
rather than to the esthetician, Aristotle, for the 
deliberate promulgation of the doctrine. In the 
ideal commonwealth of his conception, Plato logic- 
ally insisted, in the interest of law and order, that 
the good should be rewarded and the wicked pun- 
ished. Aside from this purely legal aspect of the 
case, Plato as ethicist vigorously held up justice 



288 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

as the summum bonum; and he is speaking en- 
tirely in character, as a critic of the arts, in his 
Republic when he says that poets and story- 
tellers " are guilty of making the gravest mis- 
statements when they tell us that wicked men are 
often happy, and the good miserable; and that 
injustice is profitable when undetected, but that 
justice is a man's own loss, and another's gain — 
these things we shall forbid them to utter, and 
command them to sing and say the opposite." 
And Plato in his Laws even goes so far as to fore- 
shadow the more modern idea of poetic justice in 
insisting that it is the civic duty of a poet to teach 
that justice is the source of happiness, and that 
he whose wealth passes that of Midas and is yet 
unjust, can only be wretched and miserable. 

This conception of poetry as a social force in 
civilization, it must be pointed out, was really 
foreign to the theory of Aristotle, who held " that 
poetry is an emotional delight." Quinlan has 
convincingly shown that Aristotle, in his limited 
yet searching analysis of Athenian drama, was 
not interested primarily in the question of jus- 
tice, but in the artistic means by which the emo- 
tions of pity and fear are to be aroused. It is 
abundantly clear that Aristotle did not enunciate 
the principle of poetic justice as a fundamental 
principle of the drama. From his view of the 
tragic hero as a man who suffers a reversal of 



THE NEW CONTENT 283 

fortune not through vice, but because of some 
striking human frailty, ensues the logical conse- 
quence, that this virtually good man, instead of 
being rewarded, shall suffer shipwreck. The idea 
of a perfectly good man brought from prosperity 
to adversity, or of a conspicuously evil man pass- 
ing from adversity to prosperity, was equaUy 
shocking to Aristotle as a subject for dramatic 
art. The principle of poetic justice — "an op- 
posite catastrophe for the good and for the bad " 
— ^Aristotle only grudgingly accepts in a spirit of 
concession to popular taste, while expressly stat- 
ing that a spectacle exhibiting this principle does 
not procure " the true tragic pleasure.^' With 
that large perception of human emotion in the 
crowd which gives depth and carrying power to 
the Poetics, Aristotle is ready enough to acknowl- 
edge the human weakness we all share in rejoicing 
over the success of the good, and taking a keen 
satisfaction in the frustration of the evil. 

The development of the drama in Europe down 
to the time of Shakespeare exhibits steady evolu- 
tion toward the fixation of poetic justice as a 
principle of the drama. In England, for example, 
as the result of the Puritan spirit, the ethical 
influence of the drama as a social institution, 
rather than its fundamental esthetics, was per- 
sistently kept in the foreground ; and in time the 
critics and playwrights, sensitive to this moral 



884 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

pressure, resolved, as a means of casting off the 
stigma of immorality resting upon all stage spec- 
tacles, to approve and to write only those dramas 
which exhibit a symmetrical disposition of re- 
wards and penalties. Gascoigne sub-entitled The 
Glasse off Government, a " tragicall comedie " for 
a specific reason : ^^ because therein are handled as 
well the reward for virtues as also the pimish- 
ment for vices''; and George Whetstone, in the 
Dedication to his Historye of Promos and Cassan- 
dra (1678), most quaintly says: " For by the re- 
ward of the good the good are encouraged in wel 
doinge — and with the scourge of the lewde the 
lewde are feared from evill attempts: mainetayn- 
ing this my opinion with Platoes auctority." In 
a remarkable passage in his Apologie for Poetrie 
(1681), Sidney rather naively accepts as funda- 
mental the principle of poetic justice, which had 
by that time already become traditional. And 
the philosophical foundation for the principle is 
adequately laid by Bacon in his Advancement of 
Learning (1606), when he defines the ideal nature 
of poetry in contrast to the moral inconclusive- 
ness of real life; as he finely sets it forth, while 
^^ history propoundeth the successes and issues of 
actions not so agreeable to the merits of virtue 
and vice," poetry, which he calls " feigned his- 
tory," " feigns them more just in retribution and 
more according to revealed providence." 



THE NEW CONTENT «86 

The long conflict of the seventeenth and eight- 
eenth centuries over the principle of poetic jus- 
tice — ^the wabbling of Dryden, the restricted yet 
logical views of the unconscious humorist, Rymer, 
who but followed the lead of Rapin, the vaporings 
of that ludicrous extremist, Dennis, the revolt of 
Addison against the ^^ ridiculous doctrine of 
Modem Criticism " — seems to the " man in the 
street " of to-day to be nothing more than a 
"hurricane in a demi-tasse.** The true modem 
note in criticism first sounds from the "Great 
Cham " of literature, Dr. Johnson, who originally 
upheld, but later renounced, the principle of po- 
etic justice. In his Life of Addison^ he anticipates 
in some measure our contemporary attitude in the 
words : " Whatever pleasure there may be in see- 
ing crimes punished and virtue rewarded, yet, 
since wickedness often prospers in real life, the 
poet is certainly at liberty to give it prosperity 
on the stage. For if poetry has an imitation of 
reality, how are its laws broken by exhibiting the 
world in its true form? The stage may sometimes 
gratify our wishes ; but if it be truly * the mirror 
of life,' it ought to show us sometimes what we 
are to expect.'* 

To-day, in the light of a thousand forces more 
subtle and more profound than were ever realized 
by the critics of an earlier time, the theory of 
poetic justice, in its literal interpretation, has 



286 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

suffered a serious decline, if not a complete eclipse. 
•H^ The contemporary realist, drawing " the thing 
as he sees it " for men and women in a world of 
"things as they are," dispassionately rejects the 
symmetrical system of rewards and punishments, 
in its literal aspects, recognizing therein a char- 
acteristic symptom of the primitive. The doc- 
trine of poetic justice is as inhuman as its ancient 
analogue, the law of the Medes and Persians : " an 
eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.'' To-day we 
accept, with all its mystery, its pity, and its ter- 
ror, " the riddle of the painful earth.'* It is 
typical of the modern spirit to face the immitigable 
facts of life with a certain firm, courageous com- 
posure. We need be neither pessimists nor cynics 
to share the mood of Thomas Hardy: to make 
the most we can 

*' Of what remains to us amid this brake Cimmerian 
Through which we grope, and from 

Whose thorns we ache. 

While still we scan 
Round our frail faltering progress for some path or plan.'* 

With vision no longer hallowed by the mirage of 
romance, unilluded by the vagaries of a deceptive 
faith, people of to-day have come to look un- 
shrinkingly upon the garish facts of an unin- 
telligible world. Around us, upon all sides, we see 
injustice, cruelty, unmerited suffering. Unto 
the third and fourth generation are the innocent 



THE NEW CONTENT 287 

penalized for the frailty of their fathers ; the de- 
terministic pressure of social institutions, the 
tyranny of capital, the inertia of civic conscious- 
ness, the very constitution of society leave in their 
wake suffering, injustice, visiting alike upon the 
good and the evil inequality in the conditions of 
living, poverty, disease, and death. Outside the 
organized instrumentalities for the administra- 
tion of justice, we recognize in the world 
no intentional justice. The author of Romeo 
and Juliet was a true modern in the recognition 
_ of chan ce as a determinant of fate, In our 
own time, poetic justice died with Ibsen's last 
concession to the ancient theatricality, in The 
Pillars of Society, In the physical realm, the 
connection between conduct and consequences. 



1 
I 



40- 



recognized by Ibsen, Hauptmann^ and other 
modem dramatists who have treated the physio- 
logical subject of heredity, exists only in the most 
haphazard, erratic, and purposeless way. Hedda 
Gabler is Ibsen's ruthless answer to the classic 
dogma that the tragedy, willed by "poetic jus- 
tice," shall be hallowed by the consolations of 
beauty ; and in The Wild Dtt£k Relling, the high- 
priest of disillusionment, sounds the tocsin of re- 
volt in his memorable phrase : " Life would be quite 
tolerable, after all, if only we could be rid of the 
confounded duns that keep on pestering us, in our -^i- 
poverty, with the claim of the ideal." 






288 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

The outworn idea of poetic justice is yielding 
place nowadays to the infinitely more lofty ideal 
of courageous loyalty to the obligations of life. 
Nature has no morality: death, as Weismann 
put it, is only another means of economizing life. 
' The poor are consoled for the injustice of their 
i destitute state in this world by the preacher's as- 
' surance that they will receive in the next an ex- 
ceeding great reward. But the drama, which 
reflects life, is limited after all to this mundane 
sphere; and the consolations of prophecy avail 
, not to enable us to meet the inevitable obligations 
of existence. 

''Under the bludgeoninga of Chance 
My head is bloody, but unbowed " 

that is the true, high spirit of our time. We 
thank whatever Gods may be for our unconquer- 
able souls — recognizing that justice rests, not 
upon any poetic principle, but within ourselves. 
We know now that things will not come out right 
in the long run unless we ourselves labor to that 
consummate end. Contemporary literature, no 
matter of what type, progressively exhibits the 
faith of the pragmatic modem man that we shall 
create a world where justice reigns only when we 
ourselves shall embody that justice. The new 
content of contemporary life and art is epito- 
mized in the two words: Social conscientiousness. 



THE NEW CONTENT 289 

In the words of a great prophet of the new so- 
cial idealism in art: " However differently in form 
people belonging to our Christian world may de- 
fine the destiny of man ; whether they see it in hu- 
man progress in whatever sense of the words, in 
the union of all men in a socialistic realm, or in 
the establishment of a commune; whether they 
look forward to the union of mankind under the 
guidance of one universal Church, or to the fed- 
eration of the world— however various in form 
their definitions of the destination of human life 
may be, all men in our times already admit that 
the highest well-being attainable by men is to be 
reached by their union with one another,'' 



I*' 



THE NEWER TENDENCIES 

"The only subject-matter of the art of the future will 
be either feelings drawing men towards imion, or such 
as already unite them; and the forms of art will be such 
as will be open to every one. And therefore, the ideal of 
excellence in the future will not be the exclusiveness of 
feeling, accessible only to some, but, on the contrary, its 
universality."^--LTOF Tolstoy. 

\ 
As we view in perspective the drama to-day in 
Europe^ in Great Britain, and in the United 
States, we shall not miss the significance of the 
moment in describing it as the moment of experi- 
mentalism. We have witnessed the rise and de- 
cline of naturalism, the persistence of realism and 
its final triumphant domination of the drama as of 
all other forms of literature, the first groping ten- 
tatives of symbolism and mysticis^m. The period 
through which we have passed and the period 
through which we are now passing are distin- 
guished by two remarkable traits. Modem liter- 
ature is distinguished by evolution in form, revo- 
lution in spirit. The motto of the revolution may 
be found in Ibsen's defiant challenge : " My book 
is poetry; and if it is not it will be.'* The con- 

291 



!>' 



898 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

temporary dramatist boldly aJflSrms that the con* 
ception of drama shall be widened, broadened, 
deepened — shall be made to conform to the prac- 
tice of modem creative art. 

An axiom of dramatic criticism which has re- 
mained barren of creative result in the past is the 
axiom that the drama is the ctdminating synthesis 
of all the arts, the esthetic integration of litera- 
ture, music, painting, and sculpture. The true ex- 
planation of the sterility of this axiom is found 
in the neglect of the dramatist to recognize in the 
sister arts anything more than auxiliary, ancillary 
aids in the fortification of emotive, decorative, and 
plastic effects, r In a strictly economic sense, 
architecture throughout all history has exercised 
a despotic tyranny over creative individual gen- 
ius. Investigation now persistently directed to- 
ward the drama as a form of art dependent in 
some measure upon the physical exigencies of the 
theater is a characteristic feature of contemporary 
dramatic criticism.^ 

No longer does the dramatic critic venture to 
consider the drama solely as a branch of litera- 
ture. Modem research and the spirit of con- 
temporary experimentalism compel the recogni- 
tion of the drama as, in the mathematical sense, 
a function of the theater. The fertile germs of 
the modem spirit are found in the subtle analysis 
of Lodovico Castelvetro, the Italian critic of the 



THE NEWER TENDENCIES «9S 

Renascence, who maintained that both the form \\f' 



and content of the drama were conditioned and^ 
molded by the architectural environment and the* 
immediate data of representation. The conclu- 
sions which he drew therefrom were imperfect 
and erroneous ;'' but he anticipated contemporary 
dramatic criticism in recognition of the drama as^ 
a form of art in some measure dependent upon the' 
cardinal fact that it is a social transaction, to be 
presented in public before a representative audi- 
ence in a given environment and within a specified 
interval of time/J To-day, another great Italian 
critic, Benedetto Croce, has illuminated with rare 
clarity the true function of all criticism. In the 
light of his esthetic, we cannot parry the conclu- 
sion that theatric representation of the drama is 
perhaps the most complex and difficult mode of 
criticism the arts can supply. 

According to Croce, ayrtjspure intuition. The 
transition from pure intuition to creative achieve- 
ment is seen in four successive steps. First the 
artist receives certain impressions, as the result of 
which he forms a certain spiritual esthetic syn- 
thesis ; with this expression goes a certain hedonis- 
tic accompaniment; and the final step is taken in 
the translation of the esthetic fact into a physical 
phenomenon. Criticism is the process inverse to 
creation,^ The critic must retrace in inverse order 
the steps of the creative artist in the creation of 



^ 



> 



\ 



294 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

a work of art. From the work of art, the critic 
receives a certain stimulus ; this stimulus expresses 
itself in the form of perception of the physical 
facts of the art work, with its essential hedonistic 
accompaniment. These in turn re-create in the 
jnind of the critic the original spiritual esthetic 
synthesis; the re-translation of this into descrip- 
tive analysis constitutes literary criticism. 

In the light of Croce's theories, I should like 
to stress the fact that in the presentation of a 
drama, we have the most intricate and complex 
form of critical reproduction. For in the pro- 
cess of criticism, not one but many factors are in- 
volved. And these factors are interrelated in the 
most intimate ways. The esthetic fact is the 
drama itself as conceived by the genius of the 
creative artist. The hedonistic accompaniment 
or pleasure of the beautiful must be re-created 
in the mind of the critical interpreter and trans- 
lated into a physical, mimetic, oral reproduction 
of the dramatic creation. 

It is just at this point that emerge the supreme 
complexities of the problem. The critical inter- 
preter here is not the individual critic, but a 
group of interpreters, the actors. The hedonistic 
accompaniment is constituted by means of scen- 
ery, the human voice, all the aids of esthetic ex- 
pression, emotive, decorative, plastic. The phys- 
ical reproduction of the drama is limited and 



r 



THE NEWER TENDENCIES 295 

conditioned by the physical exigencies of the play- 
house. The drama, as a form of critical repre- 
sentation, is the most tentative and experimental 
of all the arts. The true tragedy of dramatic 
genius is the realization that all theatric repre- 
sentation is but a mode of esthetic approximation. 
Shakespeare, Molifere, Ibsen suffered the supreme 

/ penalty of the dramatic art in never seeing real- 
ized upon the stage, in all the subtlety of meaning, 
the range of intent, the perfection of beauty, the 
pristine creations of their dramatic fancy. 6en- 

/ ius and taste are identical in the final sense that 
they are respectively the creative and re-creative 
processes of art. The final limitation of the 
drama is that the perfect presentation of a dra- 
matic work of genius can never be achieved. For 
the interpreters can never rise, in their task of 
interpretation, to the full altitude of the genius 
nor wholly identify themselves with his spirit. - 
The cardinal fact, the supreme discovery of 
modern dramatic criticism, is the full recognition 
that the drama is limited by the physical form of 
the theater, the histrionic ability of the players, 
the co-operative assistance of the auxiliary arts. 
This discovery is responsible for the esthetic 
revolution of to-day in the drama. It is this es- 
thetic revolution which is prophetic of the future 
enlargement and enrichment of dramatic art. 
Nevertheless contemporary criticism of the 




^ 



«96 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

drama, stirred by the significance and fertility of 
the new discovery, has gone to extremes of gen- 
eralization on the subject of the influence of archi- 
tectural structure upon dramatic form and con- 
tent. Incited by the modem scientific tendency 
to decry individual volition and to assign para- 
mount importance to the shaping influence of en- 
vironment, and inspired by the modern critical 
tendency to supply an economic interpretation 
of all manifestations of the human spirit, much 
modem criticism has shattered the true perspec- 
tive in the inter-relationship of the playhouse and 
the play. 

^ ^ The drama is a democratic art. This may be, 
and generally is, casually accepted as a truism. 
Certainly it is true in the specific sense that dra- 
matic production is a business, a trade, depem}ent 
for success upon the suffrage of the public, y^he 
playhouse no more determines the form and con- 
tent of the drama than the ** drama's patrons " 
give the ** drama's laws." The most that can be 
said is that the playhouse, in its physical propor- 
tions, is only one of the innumerable influences 
which " condition " but do not " determine " the 
form and content of the draiba. .; 

The pressure exerted by tEe creative dramatist 
in the invention of new forms of art is illustrated 
by the steady evolution of theatrical accessories 
in conformity to that pressure. The successive 



NEWER TENDENCIES «97 

changes in form and technic, in the history of the 
drama, are not explicit consequences of the altera- 
tions in the form of the playhouse. They may 
be implicit indications of these alterations. But 
it must be clearly recognized that they may be 
equally consequent upon many other forces. 
Among such forces may be numbered the change 
in the social temper of the people, the decay of 
popular interest in traditional legend and story, 
monarchical or republican tendencies, the growth 
of democratic sentiment, the change in art ideals. 
Probably the most potential of all such forces is 
the creative contribution of the imaginative artist. 

We may well believe that the mask was retained 
on the Greek stage because the actor was too re- 
mote from the audience to permit of effective fa- 
cial mobility. But there is no reason to believe 
that the form of the theater occasioned its original 
adoption. The characteristic features of Greek 
drama were characteristic features of Greek art, 
of Hellenic thought and religious feelings. The 
qualities of the statuesque, of massive proportion, 
of distaste for overt violence are distinctive char- 
acteristics of the Hellenic spirit in life and art. 
It was this spirit which determined the form of 
the playhouse. 

The rhetorical and lyric character of Eliza- 
bethan drama is glibly declared nowadays to have 
been a direct consequence of the platform stage. 



298 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

It IS indubitable, however, that these same char- 
acteristics prevailed in Elizabethan literature. 
Since they constituted the esthetic expression of 
the spirit of the people, they persisted and pre- 
vailed irrespective of the form of the playhouse. 
Indeed, we may well believe that they would have 
persisted had there been no playhouses in the 
Elizabethan era. The " apron " of the post- 
Elizabethan stage, which persisted for two cen- 
turies following the Restoration, afforded the 
ideal rostrum for the display of all the arts of 
rhetoric and oratory. Yet we know that wit, dia- 
lectic, epigram, and repartee, characteristic of the 
temper of the time, along with rhetoric and 
oratory, were distinguishing characteristics of the 
drama during the latter half of the survival of 
the " apron '* stage. This group of character- 
istics is unrecognizable as an explicit, or even an 
implicit, function of the physical conformation 
of the stctge. The picture-frame stage, supposed 
to conduce wholly to objective and pictorial ef- 
fects, has been responsible for the eloquent 
speechmaking of a Stockmann, the fulgurant rhet- 
oric of UAigloriy the masterly conversational 
drama of Wilde, the wit, epigram, and dialectic 
of Shaw, the illusion-shattering conclusions of 
Peter Pan, The Blue Bird — and A Good Little 
Devil! The particularistic realism of Fielding, 
of Richardson, set up a movement in fiction which 



THE NEWER TENDENCIES 299 



in time spreacLlts influence over all forms of nar- 
rative art. (The studj of humanity as a branclu 
of natural history, and not the invention of the) 
picture-frame stage, is responsible for the realist 
tic temper of contemporary dramatic art. Ibsen, 
striving for " strong realistic coloring," abolished 
the monologue and the aside in 1869: and this 
antedated Edison's discovery of the incandescent 
bulb by a decade, and its general use by a quarter 
of a century. The " heredity " of a work of dra- 
matic art, equally with, and perhaps more than its 
" environment,'* is responsible for changes in the 
content and form of the drama. 

It is indubitably true that the form of the play- 
house, the particular type of stage properties, the 
status of the profession of acting, and many other 
influences require the playwright to work within 
limits. In this sense, then, is the drama a con- 
comitant " function " of these things. An original 
genius like Shaw significantly confesses : " I do 
not select my methods : they are imposed on me by 
a hundred considerations: by the physical condi- 
tions of theatric representation, by the laws de- 
vised by the municipality to guard against fires 
and other accidents to which theaters are liable, by 
the economic conditions of theatrical commerce, 
by the nature and limits of the art of acting, 
by the capacity of the spectators for under- 
standing "what they see aiid^lieafpand by the ac- 
cidental circmnstances of the particular produc- 



x 



300 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

tion in hand." ' A study of the drama and of the 
stage o£ all ages brings to light the almost in- 
credible fact that the alterations in the form of 
the stage and of the theater have only occasion- 
ally been directly dictated by the immediate de- 
mands of the dramatist for larger freedom in 
creation. These changes have been dictated or 
prompted by considerations, sometimes wholly 
alien, often at best very imperfectly related, to 
the real needs of the dramatist as a creative 
craftsman. It was not as a rule the genius of the 
dramatist, creating new forms of drama that de- 
manded changed physical environment for their 
production, which dictated the architectural 
changes in the playhouse. Imperfect illumination 
was, it is believed, primarily responsible for the 
projecting of a curving stage far beyond the 
frame of the proscenium arch — and not the de- 
mand of some ^^new" dramatist for a stage 
adapted to the ^* drama of conversation." It was 
not the esthetic requirements of Moli^re, but the 
economic conditions of acting as a business, which 
dictated the tennis-court stage. It was not the 
demand of Augier and Dumas /S«, but the eco- 
nomic problem of the pressure of population, which 
compelled the gradual shrinkage and final oblit- 
eration of the projecting platform in the middle 
of the last century. 

In the light of the discovery of the real truth 



THE NEWER TENDENCIES 801 

underlying the conception of the drama as the 
meeting place of all the arts, we behold the emer- 
gence of a new figure. It is a figure that promises 
to work a revolution in the art of the theater and 
of the drama. This new figure^ realizing the \ 
hampering restrictions to which the drama of thp !f 
past has been subjected, has boldly determined 

to mnlH thft ^h^'**^^ *^ ^^^ pnrpnapg nf the-dram- 1 

atist. No longer shall the drama continue to be 
subject to, and enslaved by, the exigencies of the 
playhouse, the poverty of histrionic ability, the 
woeful artificialities and painful inadequacies of 
scenic investiture. All the instrumentalities for 
dramatic production are to be subject to, condi- 
tioned upon, the esthetic requirements of the 
diamatist. 1 

(Sc^[ce and art have Jit hgt joined hand^y The 
drama and The theater, for the first time in his- 
tory, have begun to unite in a true partnership. 
Science, applying the spirit of experimentalism 
to the problems of theatrical representation and 
of playhouse construction, has co-operated with 
the dramatist in the invention of new methods of 
illumination, the supplantation of the old foot- 
lights with overhead and side illumination, the 
revolving stage, the artificial horizon, and 
innumerable other means for the artificial 
creation of natural illusion. Art, utilizing 
all the skill of the costumer, the designer, the 



808 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

painter, in the spirit of esthetic experimentalisniy 
has co-operated with the dramatist in the crea- 
tion of new instrumentalities, decorative, pictorial, 
plastic, for achieving the effects sought by the 
dramatist. In my own experience, the chasmal 
change is best represented by a comparison of the 
method of Brahm in the production of an Ibsen 
play at the Lessing Theater in Berlin and the 
production of Wagner's Ring at the Prinzregen- 
ten Theater in Munich. The Wild Dtick, as pre- 
sented at the Lessing Theater, notable for the 
distinction of the acting, was marred by the over- 
elaboration of insignificant scenic detail, the dis- 
tracting superabundance of commonplace furni- 
ture and accessories. The Ring, as presented at 
the Prinzregenten Theater, conspicuous neither 
for the genius of the acting nor the supremacy of 
the singing, was memorable for the stage manage- 
ment. All the arts seemed employed for a single 
end: to realize the leading motives of the music 
drama, and to co-operate in the production of 
esthetic unity of impression. 

Nature, in its processes, is essentially experi- 
mental. A thousand tentative failures is the price 
of a single success. The. new art of the theater 
is experimental in the same sense. A thousand 
combinations of esthetic values are tried before 
the real right one is found. Gordon Craig has de- 
fined art as scientific knowledge. Surely this is 



THE NEWER TENDENCIES SOS 

one of the most revolutionary- definitions of art 
in all history. Craig, Reinhardt, Stanislavsky, 
Barker have employed all the arts in all phases 
from the earliest time until to-day, in the effort 
to achieve the perfect symbol of the drama. The 
impressionism of Japan, the conventional picto- 
rial hieroglyphics of Egypt and Assyria, the bas- 
relief of Italy, and the fresco of modem art; the 
substitution of shadow-perspective on plane re-f 
lief for solid perspective ;y he employment of pri^ 
mary colors and mass-effects against a mono-! 
chrome background ; f the creation of changes id 
color through changing lights thrown upon talj 
dull-toned screens, arranged in varying de-f 
signs ; the employment of the rectangular to sug4 
gest towering architecture and vanishing perspec-; 
tive — these are characteristic examples of the 
methods of the regisseur or stage-manager in 
achieving this new, experimental art of the thea- 
ter which is no less the new, experimental art of. 
the drama. 

Stimmwngy said Strindberg — ah! that is Poe- 
try. This is the clue to this art of the future 
which stands out as the most significant tendency 
of the contemporary dramatic movement. The 
aim of all these practitioners of the un ited^arts, 
hnwpypr HiffpriTig their methods, is to grasp the .es=-. 
f^p^fml gpirif nf ^T ifi flrfimf\ . And having grasped 
it, the n to realize in symbol this prevailing mood, 




804 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

this atmospheric motif. Rhythm, mobile relief, 
symbolic interpretatiM, ' mass-effect, imaginative 
decoration — these are some of the instrumental- 
ities by which the new artist is to achieve his 
esthetic interpretation of the dramatist's design. 
To the new artist, pure realism is caricature. His 
design is imaginative not realistic, decorative not 
graphic. [The attention of the spectator is no 
longer to oe distracted by the meticulous realism 
of the scenery and the historical accuracy of the 
costumes. His entire attention will be held by 
the co-operation of all the auxiliary arts in the 
achievement of the dramatist's emotional design. 
The ancient weakness of the drama bids fair to 
be reduced to a minimum. For the day is surely 
dawning when the dramatist shall become his own 
regisseur. So long as the play of the dramatist is 
dependent for production upon the artistic tem- 
perament of the stage-manager, so long will there 
lurk that danger of bifurcation of interest on the 
part of the spectator. The force of the drama 
may be lost in contemplative admiration of the 
esthetic genius of the producer. That can only be 
a rare and fortuitous conjunction when the tem- 
perament of the dramatist and the temperament 
of the producer are in sympathetic and har- 
monious accord. The coming of the new art 
widens, as nothing hitherto has ever done, the 
breach between drama and literature. To achieve 



THE NEWER TENDENCIES 805 

his purpose, to secure his effect, the dramatist 
of the future must become the true "theater- 
poet/* (He must cease to be a mere purveyor of ^ 
literature, and must become a technical genius of i 
the theater. He must acquire a mastery of the 
intellectual, emotive, decorative, and plastic 
media for the visual and aural realization of the 
dramatic symbol. 

The age of realism has done its great work. AU 
art bears its stamp and superscription. It is 
inconceivable for any period of the immediate fu- 
ture that real life of the day will be presented on 
the stage without the instrumentality of realistic 
transcription of reality. The new art of which I 
have beien speaking is essentially imaginative, 
symbolic, poetic, romantic. It points at once to^ 
the past and to the future, 
weakness is that it has achieved no successful sym-l 
"^dlTc renditira^of th? spirit of to-Jay. AnTHbuW- 
less the reason Tor this is that the present, the 
period of prose, of actuality, does not " compose " 
readily in terms of the imaginative and the sym- 
bolic. The present is of all things most evanes- 
cent. Stretch out the hand to reach it and it is 
even to-morrow. Grasp it and lo! it is yesterday. 
To write of the present is to write of transition. 
And this age is, of all others, most transitory, 
because it realizes itself as a link between the 
ages, and, having no sense of finality, can give 



y 



306 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

no impression of itself as an entity. There is 
that within it which is of to-morrow, and of the 
day after to-morrow, and of the far future. But 
to-morrow built upon to-day shall be the child 
of its dreams. The new art has achieved success 
almost solely in the realm of the drama of the 
past, or the poetic, symbolic drama of the present 
— Reinhardt's CEdipus, Craig's Hamlet^ Barker's 
A Winter^s Tale and Midsummer Nighfs Dream^ 
Stanislavsky's The Blue Bird. The circumstance 
may well be prophetic. The drama of the near 
future, the realization of the new art of the the- 
ater and of the drama working in conjunction, 
gives promise of being a new species of symbolic 
poetry. It bids fair to be dynamically emotive, 
vast in scope, cosmic in conception, universal in 
appeal. 

The other great tendency in the drama of 
to-day, which reveals itself most conspicuously in 
the English-speaking countries through a series 
of scattered and uncorrelated movements, is the 
i rresistible tendency toward _the organization of 
the theater as a social force. The national the- 



atrical institutions of France, with State subsidy, 
the municipal theaters of Germany, the Conti- 
nental types of repertory theater, have furnished 
the clue and the starting-point for the re-organ- 
ization of the theater as an instrumentality for 
ministering to the social needs of the people. In 



THE NEWER TENDENCIES 807 

the theater of commerce, the drama is regarded I / 
solely as a business, a trade; a play is exploited 
primarily on the basis of its lucrative possibili- 
ties. Not conservation but destruction of the 
drama is the outcome of the policy which takes 
a play and runs it to death — ^literally wearing 
out the play itself and the public by giving the 
play the longest consecutive run it will endure. 
The growth of repertory in Great Britain and the 
United States arises from a recognition that the 
managerial policy purely commercial, or rather 
purely mercenary, inevitably results in the ex- 
clusion from the theater of countless contem- 
porary plays. A distinctive feature of the mod- 
em dramatic movement is the creation of a great 
variety of plays of a new type, whether of one, 
three, or four acts, which do not bear the test of 
the long run. They are calculated to appeal 
not to the unthinking crowd, moved solely 
through the eye and the cruder emotions, but to 
the more intelligent sections of the modern publid 
animated by the larger social consciousness of 
the epoch. The great problem which faces the 
dramatist and the manager of to-day is the find- 
ing of the way and the means of enticing once : 
more into the theater the best elements of the 
public, which have been driven from the theater 
by the banality of the tone of the commercial 
play, its deficiency in intellectual speculativeness, 



/ 



r 

) 



808 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

its dependence upon the purely emotional, the 
theatrical, or even the frankly melodramatic ap- 
peal 

Along with this task goes the cognate task of 
organizing, of educating, the great public — ^the 
general nm of playgoers, popular supporters of 
all types of theatric production — ^by setting up 
sane, broad, normal standards of estimate and 
judgment of the current drama. The repertory 
theaters which have sprung up in Great Britain 
as the natural outgrowth of the privately con- 
ducted organizations for the production of for- 
eign and native dramatic masterpieces and the 
encouragement of native dramatic talent, such as 
the Independent Theater, the New Century The- 
ater, the Stage Society, and the Elizabethan 
Stage Society, testify to the growing sense of the 
recognition of the necessity for ministering to 
the esthetic needs of the more cultivated sections 
of contemporary society. The inauguration of 
similar organizations in the United States, within 
the past decade, is a tentative sign of a similar 
change in sentiment in this regard. Simultane- 
ously, efforts toward the organization of the 
theater and the drama along national lines, having 
for ultimate purpose the education of the great 
public and the gratification of its recreative needs, 
find embodiment in such significant institutions as 
the projected Shakespeare Memorial National 



THE NEWER TENDENCIES 809 

Theater in England, and the Drama League of 
America which has already enlisted the services 
of the ablest thinkers and constructive workers, 
in the drama, in the theater, in criticism, which 
the country affords. The indispensable pioneer- 
ing work has already begun; large social forces, 
touching all the esthetic and vital tendencies of 
the age, have already been set in motion. Behind 
all these new tendencies lurks the vague, yet hope^ 
fully communal, aspiration toward the incorpora- 
tion into the functions of a democratic state of 
the fostering, conservation, and support of the 
drama as a great social institution potentially V 
capable of ministering to the esthetic and recrea- 
tive needs of a people. 

The drama of to-day, through the influences 
of modem science, of contemporary democracy, 
of shifting moral values, of the critical rather 
than the worshipful attitude toward life, of an 
irresistible thrust toward increased naturalism 
and greater veracity, has become bourgeois, deal- 
ing with the world of every day; comic, verging 
upon the tearful, or serious, trenching upon the 
tragic; unheroic, suburban, and almost prosaic, 
yet intensely interesting by reason of its sincerity 
and its humanity ; essentially critical in tone, prov- 
ing all things, holding fast that which is good. 
The contemporary realist has learned to dispense 
with the outworn theatricalities, the threadbare 



810 THE CHANGING DRAMA 

conventions which discredit the efficient crafts- 
man. Unity of action, alone of the three unities, 
survives as an obligatory force ; and contemporary 
creativeness has brought to light a fourth unity, 
unity of impression. There is to-day no abstract 
or ideal justice to replace the poetic justice of a 
more artificial theory of art. Action and exposi- 
tion proceed hand in hand, or become identical; 
and the modern drama concerns itself less with ma- 
terial action than with a minute and exhaustive 
consideration of the motives which prompt to 
action. Neither conflict nor action is indispensa- 
ble to the contemporary play; passivity and im- 
mobility may constitute its ground tone and mo- 
tive. The influence of the picture-frame stage, 
.making for perfect objectivity, is offset by the 
* continual recurrence of the personal and the tem- 
peramental. Rarer and rarer are becoming the 
" necessarily artificial poems that arise from the 
impossible marriage of past and present '' ; and 
in the future, reconstitution of past epochs, re- 
vitalization of historic episodes and characters, 
promise to be effected solely through the trans- 
mutative media of modern thought and modem 
philosophy. The drama to-day embodies the so- 
cial fervor of the epoch. The humanizing influ- 
ences of fraternal sympathy, of social pity and 
social justice, are everywhere beginning to re- 
place the pressure of more personal and selfish 



THE NEWER TENDENCIES 811 

interests. The drama is finally losing its char- 
acter as pure literature; the closet-^drama is a 
bald anachronism. The drama of the future prom- 
ises to be, in the creative and constructive sense, a 
synthesis of all the arts. The dramatist of the 
future bids fair to be the Admirable Crichton in 
the Romance of Esthetics. 



THE END 



INDEX 



About, Edmond, 953 
Addams, Jane, 17 
Addison, Joseph, 985 
Advancement of Learning, 

984 
^schylus, 155, 198 
Aesthetic, 939 
Aiglon, L', 998 
Alabama, 997 

Alias Jimmy Valentine, 971 
Allen, Grant, 967 
Anatol, 90 
Ancey, George, 119 
Andreyev, Leonid, 197, 144, 

979 
Anna Kardnina, 13, 19 
Antoine, Andr6, 118, 119, 

190, 199 
Apologie for Poetrie, 984 
Archer, William, 154 
Aristophanes, 34, 74 
Aristotie, 31, 39, 35, 44, 52, 

54, 56, 61, 69, 147, 148, 

149, 150, 151, 158, 160, 

174, 916, 954, 981, 989, 

983 
Arms and the Man, 158, 908 
Arnold, Matthew, 965 
Arnold, Maurice LeRoy, 198 
Assommoir, U, 115 
Augier, ^rnile, 75, 116, 117, 

179, 300 
AvarHs, Les, 191, 157 
Aveugles, Les, 155 

Bacon, Francis, 169, 984 
Bahr, Hermann, 939 
Baker, Elizabeth, 155 



Barker, Harley Granville, 

39, 70, 137, 155, 158, 174, 

176, 178, 904, 993, 958, 

964, 803, 306 
Bataille de Ifames, La, 116 
Baudelaire, Charles, 91 
Beaumarchais, Pierre Au- 

gustin Caron de, 957 
Becque, Henri, 190 
Beddoes, T. L., 199 
Before Sunrise, 119, 199 (v. 

Vor 8onnenaufgang) 
Ben Hur, 107 
Bennett, Arnold, 68 
Bergson, Henri, 7, 50, 104, 

109, 145 
Bergstrom, Hjalmar, 80, 

135 
Beyond Human Power, 90, 

149 
Bjornson, Bjornstjerne, 87, 

95, 105, 117, 199, 135, 149, 

157, 158, 168, 170, 956, 968, 

976, 978 
Blanchette, 119, 198 
Blue Bird, The, 155, 186, 

998, 306 
Boileau, 55 
Bourgeois Oentilhomme, Le, 

158 
Bourget, Paul, 996 
Brahm, Otto, 199, 309 
Brand, 68 
Brandes, Georg, 33, 74, 901, 

955 
Brieux, Eugene, 8, 38, 109, 

104, 105, 106, 111, 119, 

190, 191, 198, 135, 157, 



818 



314 



INDEX 



158, 168, 170, 171, 176, 

195, 217, 219, 224, 278 
Browne, Walter, 144 
Brunetifcre, Ferdinand, 19, 

43, 44, 150, 151, 152, 

153 
Bunyan, John, 107 
Burbank, Lutiier, 34 
Burton, Richard, 164 

Cabiria, 142 

Cailhava d'Estendoux, J. F. 

de, 200 
Calderon, Pedro, 35, 155 
Candida, 69, 136, 157, 170 
Carlyle, Thomas, 270 
Carnegie, Andrew, 276 
Caspari, Theodore, 146 
Castelvetro, Lodovico, 56f 

57, 292 
Cenci, The, 172 
Chains, 155 
Chantecler, 185 
Cherry Garden, The, 177 (v. 

Cherry Orchard) 
Cherry Orchard, The, 134, 

270, 274 (v. Cherry Oar- 
den) 
Oiesterton, Gilbert, 106, 270, 

274 
Citta Morte, La, 128 
Clarista Harlowe, 264 
Comedy of Love, The, 67, 

76 
Come le Foglie, 264 
Coming of Peace, The, 123 

(v. Da^ Friedensfest) 
Commedia dell' arte, 208 
Comteise d'Escarhagnas, 205 
Congreve, William, 137, 

189 
Corbeaux, Lee, 120 
Comeille, Pierre, 35, 55, 61, 

205, 269 
Courtney, William Leonard, 

273, 274 



Craig, Gordon, 64, 204, 302, 

303, 306 
Creditors, The, 70, 128, 131, 

134, 214 
Critique, 205 
Croce, Benedetto, 2, 25, 40, 

239, 293, 294 
Cromwell, 58 
Crosby, Ernest, 256 
Cur^e, La, 80 
Cuvier, Georges, 114 
Cynthio, Giraldi, 56 

Dacier, Andr4, 269 
D'Alembert, Jacques, 105 
Dame aux Camellias, La, 90 
Dance of Death, The, 63, 

157 
D'Annunzio, Gabriele, 4, 63, 

64, 128, 142, 204, 224, 232, 

233, 235 
Darwin, Charles, 43, 49, 99 
D'Aubignac, F. H., Abb^ 

199, 269 
D4dale, Le, 101 
De I'art de la comidie, 200 
DeMiUe, Wm. C, 272 
Dennis, John, 285 
Devil's Disciple, The, 241, 

246 
De Vries, Hugo, 34, 43, 49, 

79, 124, 139 
Diary of Edmond Got, The, 

173 
Dickens, Charles, 16, 227, 

270, 271 
Diderot, Denis, 257, 258, 259 
Doctor's Dilemma, The, 20 
Doll's House, A, 66, 67, 76, 

88, 90, 133, 156, 207, 213, 

214, 265, 278 
Don Juan in Hell, 135 
Dostoievsky, Feodor, 16 
Dream Play, The, 155 
Dryden, John, 35, 159, 199, 

205, 285 



INDEX 



315 



Dumas, Alexandre, 75 (v. 

Dumas fils) 
Dumas fils, 16, 33, 94, 115, 

116, 117, 118, 119, 157, 

316, 300 
Dundreary, Lord, 35 

Easiest Way, The, 197 

Easter, 143, 155 

Echegaray, Jos^, 4, 100 

Edison, Thomas, 399 

Ehre, Die, 317 

Einsame Menschen, 133, 138 

Electra, 157 

Elektra, 63, 70, 71 

Eliot, George, 13, 16, 18, 

364 
Eloesser, Arthur, 171 
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 16, 

45 
Emperor and Oalilean, 68, 

76, 190 
Enemy of the People, An, 

19, 66, 68, 76, 103, 134, 

157, 317, 377 
Essay of Dramatic Poesy, 
^ 159, 199 

Etrangire, V, 117 
Eucken, Rudolf, 113 
Euripides, 33, 198 
European Dramatists, 53 
Everywoman, 144 

Fabre, Camille, 119 
Faguet, l^mile, 118, 119 
Falck, C, 304 
Fall of the House of Usher, 

The, 64, 140, 381 
Pamilie Selicke, Die, 133 
Fanny's First Play, 136 
Father, The, 69, 119, 131, 

157 
Faust, 144, 379 
F4cond%t4, 379 
Femme de Claude, La, 19 



Pemme SeuU, La, 131 
Ferrero, Guglielmo, 376 
Fielding, Henry, 365, 398 
PiU Naturel, Le, 157, 357 
Fitch, Clyde, 88, 333 
Flaubert, Gustay, 31, 33 
Forbes-Robertson, Johnston, 

376 
Prancesca da Rimini, 63 
Freytag, Gustav, 38, 44 
Friedensfest, Das, 69, 133, 

169 (v. Coming of Peace) 
Fugitive, The, 101 
Fuhrmann Henschel, 363 

Gald6s, Benito Peres, 157 
Galsworthy, John, 38, 69, 70, 

101, 103, 137, 155, 157, 

158, 170, 171, 175, 176, 

177, 178, 179, 318, 333, 

356 
Gascoigne, George, 384 
Gauntlet, A, 133, 135, 157 
Oay Lord Quex, The, 157 
Oendre de M. Poirier, Le, 

173 
George, Henry, 99 
Oeorge Barnwell, 356, 364 

(v. The London Merchant) 

364 
Getting Married, 70, 136, 

175 
Ohosts, 35, 36, 66, 67, 76, 

80, 119, 131, 133, 138, 157, 

316 
Giacosa, Giuseppe, 69, 331, 

364 
Oioconda, La, 333 
GUbert, W. S., 309, 310 
Olasse of Government, The, 

384 
Goethe, Wolfgang von, 6, 

77, 96, 144, 155, 379 
Goldoni, Carlo, 155 
Goldsmith, Oliver, 353 
Good Hope, The, 143 



316 



INDEX 



Good Little Devil, A, 398 
Gorky, Maxim, 137, 155, 158, 

278 
Gosse, Edmund, 190 
Got, Edmond, 173 
Gottschall, Rudolph von, 73 
Qran Oaleoto, El, 100 
Grand Monarque, 41 
Great Divide, The, 20, 135, 

157 
Grierson, Francis, 19 
Grillparzer, Franz, 59 

Habitation Enforced, An 
281 

Haeckel, Ernst, 99 

Haggard, H. Rider, 206 

Hamlet, 64, 73, 103, 142, 271, 
306 

Hankin, St. John, 69, 137, 
158, 178 

Hannele, 142, 155, 280 

Hapless Love, 69 

Hardy, Thomas, 139, 286 

Hauptmann, Gerhardt, 47, 
69, 71, 77, 78, 80, 87, 89, 
95, 105, 119, 121, 122, 
123, 124, 125, 127, 128, 
142, 147, 149, 155, 158, 
168, 169, 170, 174, 176, 
193, 224, 231, 262, 273, 
278, 280, 287 

Hebbel, Friedrich, 74, 75, 
157, 261, 262 

Hedda Gahler, 66, 67, 76, 
80, 128, 207, 214, 216, 229, 
267, 287 

Heijermans, Hermann, 143 

Heimat, 80, 264 

Hennique, L^n, 119 

Hernani, 157 

Hervieu, Paul, 101, 217 

Historye of Promos and 
Cassandra, 284 

Hofmannsthal, Hugo von, 
63. 70 



Holmsen, Bjame P., 77 
Holz, Arno, 77, 121, 122 
Hoskins, John Preston, 43, 

46 
Hostrup, Rev. Christian, 

237 
Houghton, Staaley, 178 
Howe, P. P., 211 
Howells, William Dean, 122 
Hugo, Victor, 16, 35, 58, 

157, 218 

Ibsen, Fru, 167 

Ibsen, Henrik, 3, 7, 14, 15, 
18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 27, 
28, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 38, 
45, 47, 48, 53, 58, 64, 65, 
66, 67, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 
74, 75, 76, 77, 80, 81, 82, 
86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 
93, 95, 98, 99, 100, 102, 104, 
105, 117, 118, 119, 121, 
128, 133, 134, 135, 136, 
142, 144, 146, 155, 156, 
157, 158, 159, 165, 167, 
168, 170, 171, 190, 191, 
192, 193, 195, 196, 200, 
201, 205, 206, 207, 209, 
211, 214, 21*. 216, 217, 
222, 224, 228> 229, 231, 
232, 237, 239, 256, 259, 
261, 263^ 264, 265, 266, 
267, 268, 276, 277, 278, 
279, 287, 291, 295, 299, 
302 

Ibsen, Sigurd, 74 

Iffland, August Wilhelm, 
257 

Ignatoff, I. N., 97 

Iliad, 47 

Impromptu, 205 

Intentions, 150 

Intdrieure, L', 155, 280 

Intruse, U, 153, 155, 280 

Iri», 70 

Ivanhoe, 279 



INDEX 



317 



JameSy Henry, S26 

James, William, 7, 25, 43, 50 

Jean ChrUtophe, 194 

John BulVs Other Island, 

217, 278 
John Oabriel Borkman, 66, 

67, 70, 76, 207 
John, King, 256 
Johnson, Samuel, 91, 285 
Jones, Henry Arthur, 157, 

205, 221, 223 
Julia, 74 
Juetice, 102, 279 

Kabale und lAebe, 257 
Karen Borneman, 80 
Kennedy, Charles Rann, 70, 

142 
King Henry V, 59 
KipUng, Rudyard, 7, 102, 

281 
Kleist, Heinrich von, 73 
Kotasebue, A. F. F. von, 257 

Lady from the Sea, The, 66, 

67, 76, 216 
Lady Inger of Oettraai, 67, 

75, 200 
Lady Windermere's Fan, 

158, 171, 205, 235 
Laube, Heinrich, 146 
Laws, 282 
League of Youth, The, 66, 

67, 76, 158, 201, 228 
Lebendige Stunden, 155 
Le Bon, Gustave, 91, 164, 

166 
Legouv^, Ernest, 116 
L^attre, Jules, 113 
Lessing, Gotthold, 44, 61, 

95, 169, ^66, 257, 261 
Letoumeau, C., 168 
Liebelei, 211, 214 
Life of Addison, 285 
Life of Man, The, 144 
Lillo, George, 256, 257, 264 



LittU Eyolf, 66, 67, 76, 134 

264, 278 
London Merchant, The, 256, 

264 
London Prodigal, The, 256 
Lonely Lives (v. Einsame 

Menschen) 
Lope de Vega, 57 (v. Vega) 
Loraine, Robert, 135 
Lower Depths, The, 127 (v. 

Nachtasyl) 
Lynggard and Company, 135 

Macbeth, 64, 157 
MacKaye, Percy, 102, 223 
Madras House, The, 137, 

155, 175 
Maeterlinck, Maurice, 4, 36, 

45, 63, 64, 85, 109, 137, 

138, 139, 141, 142, 144, 

153, 155, 158, 177, 186, 

268, 277, 280 
Magistrate, The, 205 
Man and Superman, 135, 

136, 157, 241, 246 
Mansfield, Richard, 170 
Maria Magdalena, 157, 261 
Maria Stuart, 73 
Marinetti, F. f •» 23 
Marlowe, Christopher, 45, 

103, 125, 199 
Marx, Karl, 278 
Master Builder, The, 66, 67, 

76, 142, 207, 214, 216 
Maternity, 121, 128, 278 
Maupassant, Guy de, 141 
McKinnei, Norman, 135 
M^dan, 120 
Manage d* Artistes, 119 
Mercier, Sebastian, 257, 259 
Meredith, George, 104, 175, 

273 
Middleton, George, 179, 272 
Midsummer Night's Dream, 

A, 306 
Milestones, 68 



318 



INDEX 



MiU, John Stuart, 99 
Misalliance, 136 
Mis4rahles, Les, 13 
Miss Julia, 71, 80, 119, 123, 

1^, 130, 1208 
Miss Sara Sampson, ^57, 

S60 
Moli^re, J.-B. Poquelin de, 

9, 11, 15, 16, 35, 96, 119, 

158, 167, 199, ^5, 258, 

295, 300 
Mommsen, Theodor, 276 
Moody, William Vaughan, 

135, 157, 224 
Mrs, Dan^s Defense, 157 
Mrs. Warren's Profession, 

80, 128, 136, 214, 278 
Murrajr, Gilbert, 32 

Nachtasyl, 155 (v. The 

Night Shelter) 
Nana, 127 
Nietzsche, Friedrich, 3, 7, 10, 

37, 38, 99 
Night Shelter, The, 278 (v. 

Nachtasyl) 
Nisard, Desir^, 164 
Notorious Mrs, Ebhsmith, 

The, 232 
Novalis, 45 
Nowadays, 272 

(Edipus, 36, 73, 77, ibi?, 133, 

306 
Oedipus Rex (v. (Edipus'^ 
Othello, 255 
Our Boys, 35 

Pamela, 264 
Papa Hamlet, 77 
Parisienne, La, 120 
Pater, Walter, 30 
Patient Griselda, 39 
Peer Oynt, 68, 76, 144, 279 
Ph^e de Famille, Le, 257 



Pertharite, 205 
PeUr Pan, 298 
Philosophe sans le Sattair, 

Le, 260 
Pigeon, The, 155, 175 
Pilgrim's Progress, The, 107 
Pillars of Society, The, 66, 

67, 76, 206, 216, 279, 287 
Pinero, Arthur Wing, 33, 70, 

157, 205, 211, 215, 217, 

223, 232 
Piu Forte, II, 231 
Plato, 281, 282, 284 
Piatt, George Foster, 64, 

204 
Plays, Pleasant and Unr 

pleasant, 222 
Plutarch, 276 
Poe, Edgar Allan, 140, 141, 

280, -281 
Pog, Lugn^, 131 
Poetics, 52, 54, 55, 216, 254, 

283 
Pompie, 205 
Power of Darkness, 119, 

122, 127 
Pratique du Thidtre, 199 
Pretendsrs, The, 68, 76 
Professor Bernhardi, 137, 

157 
Puissance de THhbres, 119 

(v. Power of Darkness) 
Puttenham, George, 255 

Quinlan, M. A., 282 
Quo Vadis, 107 

Racine, Jean, 269 
Raffles, 271 
Rapin, Ren^, 285 
Ratten, Die, 149, 262 
Raven, The, 140 
Reinhardt, Max, 64, 131, 132, 

142, 204, 303, 306 
Ren^, 80 
Republic, 282 



INDEX 



319 



Revenants, Les, 119 (v. 
Ohost9) 

Rhodes, Cecil, ^6 

Riccoboni, Antoine Fran- 
cois, 258 c^ 

Richard III, 213 

Richardson, Samuel, 265, 
298 

Ricketts, Charles, 135 

Ring, The, 302 

Robortelli, Francesco, 56 

Rod, Eduard, 95 

Romeo and Juliet, 255, 
287 

Rosmersholm, 66, 67, 76, 80, 
216 

Rostand, Edmond, 47, 185 

Rougon-Macquart, 114 

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 265, 
278 

Ruskin, John, 16 

Ruysbroeck, Jan Van, 45 

Rymer, Thomas, 285 

Saint Augustine, 197 
Sainte-Beuve, Charles Au- 

gustin, 249 
Salomd, 63, 142, 157 
Sand, George, 21 
Sandeau, Jules, 172 
Sarcey, Francisque, 133 
Sardou, Victorien, 196, 212 
Savva, 127 
Schiller, Friedrich von, 47, 

73, 77, 155, 257 
Schlaf, Johannes, 78, 121, 

122 
Schlegel, August Wilhelm 

von, 164 
Schnitzler, Arthur, 4, 35, 

135, 137, 155, 157, 158, 

170, 211, 214, 231 
Scrap of Paper, A, 196 
Scribe, Eugene, 44, 116, 117, 

196, 200, 201, 207 
Sebaatopol, 279 



Second Mrs, Tanqueray, Tlte, 

215, 217 
Sedaine, Michel Jean, 257, 

260 
Seneca, 198 " 

Sept Princesses, Les, 155 
Servant in the House, The, 

70, 142 
Shakespeare, William, 10, 
11, 15, 34, 35, S6,ll%h,Jt^ 
47, 57, 59, 73, 10^125, 
142, 150, 177, m> 198, 
199, 213, 255, 256, 276, 
283, 295, 308 
Shaw, George Bernard, 4, 7, 
8, 16, 30, 31, 35, 36, 38, 46, 
47, 69, 70, 71, 78, 80, 81, 
84, 90, 102, 104, 105, 106, 
107, 128, 135, 136, 156, 
157, 158, 159, 168, 170, 
171, 172, l'J'5, 176, 195, 
208, 209, 214, 217, 219, 
221, 222, 223, 224, 226, 
237, 240, 241, 245, 246, 
247, 253, 256, 258, 266, 
278, 298, 299 
She, 206 

Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 172 
Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 

137 189 
Sidney, Sir Philip, 269, 284 
Sienkiewickz, Henryk, 107 
Silver Box, The, 70 
Smith, C. Alphonso, 141 
Sonnenfels, Adolf von, 

263 
Sophocles, 73, 102, 133, 155, 

198 
Spencer, Herbert, 270 
Spielhagen, Friedrich, 140 
Spingam, Joel Elias, 56 
Spring Chicken, The, 90 
Stanislavsky, Konstantin, 64, 

204, 303, 306 
Stevens, Alfred, 39 
Strauss, Richard, 70, 71 



\ 



L 



820 



INDEX 



strife, 69, 137, 157 

Strindberg, August, 8, 30, 35, 
63, 64, 69, 70, 71, 80, 83, 
89, 119, 123, 128, 129, 130, 
131, 132, 135, 140, 142, 
144, 155, 156, 157, 158, 
159, 170, 195, 206, 208, 
214, 239, 280, 303 

Stronger, The, 206 

Sudermann, Hermann, 8, 80, 
217, 264 

Suite du Menteur, La, 205 

Sullivan, Arthur, 210 

SumuHin, 142 

Swinburne, Algernon Charles, 
91 

Synge, John Millington, 143, 
224 

Taine, Hippolyte^ 8, 29, 

114 
Tales of the Grotesque and 

the Arabesque, 140 
Tarde, Gabriel, 164 
Tartufe, Le, 15 
Tchckhov, Anton, 4, 134, 

176, 177, 178, 280 
Technik des Dramas, 28 
Theodore, 205 
There are Crimes and 

Crimes, 142 
Th4rise Baquin, 80, 130 
They, 281 

Thomas, Augustus, 223, 227 
Timon, 255 
To Dam^ascus, 144 
Tolstoy, Lyof, 3, 7, 16, 22, 

106, 119, 121, 122, 127, 

279, 291 
To-morrow, 102 
Trissino, G. G., 56 
Truth, The, 88 
Turgenev, Ivan, 92, 195 
Twain, Mark, 7 
Two Mr, Wetherhys, The, 

69, 70 



Uncle Vanya, 280 

Vega, Lope dc, 57 (v. 

Lope) 
Verm&chtniss, Das, 135 
Verne, Jules, 5 
Voltaire, Francois - Marie 

Arouet de, 258, 269 
Vor Sonnenaufgang, 80, 119, 

128, 231 
Voysey Inheritance, The, 

137, 264 

Wagner, Richard, 7, 28, 29, 

92, 302 
Walkley, Arthur Bingham, 

30, 136 
Wallenstein, 157, 279 
Walter, Eugene^ 197 
Waste, 35, 70 
Weavers, The, 103 
Weber, Die, 127, ^8 
Wedekind, Franz, 158, 209 
Weismann, August, 288 
Wetterleuchten, 280 
Wharton, Edith, 226 
When We Dead Awaken, 66, 

76, 155, 216, 217 
Whetstone, George, 284 
Whistler, James McNeill, 21 
White Horses, 80 
Whitman, Walt, 255 
Widowers* Houses, 214 
Wild Duck, The, 66, 67, 76, 

90, 217, 287, 302 
Wilde, Oscar, 17, 21, 31, 6S, 

64, 81, 137, 141, 150, 157, 

158, 171, 177, 185, 189, 

190, 194, 205, 223, 224, 

235, 237, 271, 298 
Winter, William, 170 
Winter's Tale, A, 306 
Wolf, Lucie, 192. 201 
Wolff, Pierre, 119 
Woman of No Importamee, 

A, 171 



INDEX 321 

Woman, The, Ti2 Zaza, 90 

Zerbrochens Knig, Der, 73 
Yorkshire Tragedy, The, Q56 Zola, Emile, 65, 80, 99, 106, 
You Never Can Tell, 214, 114, 115, 117, 121, 127, 
241 130, 195 



*